Taking A Look At The 2021 Year End Slate With Showtime’s Al Bernstein

By William Trillo

Boxing is in the home stretch for 2021 and as we look at the finish line we can see a number of good fights coming our way. I can’t think of a better person to give us some insight on the upcoming fights than Showtime’s announcer Al Bernstein. Check out this interview out as Al gives us a heads-up on the fights fans need keep an eye on. We also speak to Bernstein about the great charity work he is involved with. 

Pound4Pound: I really appreciate you giving me the time to speak with you Al. You know they call James Brown the hardest working man in show business, I think you’re the hardest working man in boxing.

Al Bernstein: It’s been a little busy, and boy it’s going to get busier when we hit the end of October into November. We’ve got a full slate of boxing on Showtime and Showtime Pay-Per-View and I’ll be running around all over the place. Although some of those are home games for me because several of them are in Las Vegas.

P4P: Which ones are standing out in your mind right now Al? What are the Showtime fights that are brimming with sure fire excitement?

AB: Well, obviously I’m looking forward to seeing Jaron Boots Ennis, on October 30th. He’s fighting Thomas Dulorme in what should be an action fight. Dulorme has given a bunch of top welterweights including Ugas, very difficult fights and has made them really exciting. So, we’ll see how Ennis stacks up against those other top welterweights and Boots Ennis is potentially quite a star in the welterweight division. We’ll have to see how it plays out, but he certainly has an amazing offensive skill set.

And of course, Caleb Plant taking on Canelo Alvarez is going to be a major fight in boxing. Canelo, anytime he fights it’s a major event and this would be the unification of the 168-pound championship. We know that there are high emotions already involved with that one, as evidenced by their skirmish at the weigh in.

One of the fights that really might be the topper of everything, even though maybe not at the top of the minds of every boxing fan, is that 122 pound division, which I think is one of the best of the best in boxing, and that’s Steven Fulton and Brandon Figueroa in a title unification match. That’s going to be on the 27th of November and that’s here in Las Vegas. I think that is going to be a spectacular fight. All the best fighters have been fighting each other in that weight division and this one’s kind of a culmination of a lot of those fights and I think this going to be terrific.

P4P: I agree. That’s one that I definitely have earmarked and I’m going to be in Vegas for that. I am looking forward to it. I covered a prelude to that awhile back when Figueroa KO’d Nery and Fulton was an interested ringside observer. On an action fight and a skill fight, I am really looking forward to that. Hopefully it won’t be flying under the radar on that Thanksgiving weekend and boxing fans will get a chance to take a real good look at these guys because they are a spectacular.

AB: Yes, it’s a wonderful division and I hope fans will take notice of it because these 122 pounders that are all fighting each other, which is what we want to see in boxing. It seems like there’s a couple of divisions in boxing where the top fighters seem more likely to fight each other, I don’t know why that is. But 122 is an example, 154, 118, where we see more of fighters actually engaging each other, although you can say that about the heavyweight division as well, can’t you? If you’re objective about it, many people in the top 10 and all the champions have been fighting each other, so that’s good too.

P4P: Boxing is coming around and we are getting these types of fights where top fighters are engaging. We just saw that with Fury and Wilder. The other fight that I think is flying a little bit under the radar, even the fighter himself, is Boots Ennis. I don’t know that boxing fans are aware of this guy’s potential. And that’s another one that I’m really hoping fans will tune in and pay attention to.

AB: Offensively, he’s as gifted as any fighter I’ve seen in years. He switches his righty to lefty, he has power from both stances and he’s got amazing hand speed. As an offensive fighter, I don’t know what more you would want from him. He’s also a good defensive fighter, but because he’s so aggressive he will sometimes get hit, but has not been hurt, but he hasn’t faced a big puncher. Really the only thing that we’re waiting to see from Boots Ennis, is if a powerful welterweight hits him with something square. I mean that is really the only question because he’s checked every other box at this point and I think he’s ready. If he beats Dulorme there’s no nothing, no reason why he shouldn’t fight any of the top welterweights in the world.

P4P: Something I’ve noticed regarding fighters in the top 10, fighters that we want to see fight, finally getting together. It looks like promoters are finally burying the hatchet a little bit and more willing to work with each other. Are you noticing that yourself?

AB: Yes, yes. I think there’s a slow eroding of the barriers that seem to have been erected for big fights. We also see it with the Boxing organizations, which while we criticize and rightfully so and the sanctioning bodies. Sometimes they end up being a force for good, because as in the Porter vs. Crawford fight, they get involved and they order certain fights and then promoters’ kind of, if people want to keep their titles, they have to acquiesce. And Porter vs. Crawford kind of example of that.
We saw with Fury vs. Wilder where two different promoters and two different networks all got on board. We’re seeing a little bit more of that and we need to see it more because it’s just good for the sport. I know there have been a number of things in the year 2021 that people would point to and be critical of but at the end of the day, the actual product that boxing has put out there in 2021 is the best it’s had in the last six or seven or eight years in my opinion.

P4P: I agree. And whether or not it’s cause and effect of the pandemic and the situation we went through and that type of situation, it has in my opinion helped. And we haven’t even mentioned Canelo and Plant. You know right there that one going to break records. The intrigue and the possibility there thanks to the press conference scuffle is fantastic.

AB: Yes, I think you’re right. Promoters bought themselves the collective urgency to make sure after the down period of the pandemic that when it came back, it came back strong. I thought it came back very well. Many of the sports came back well, better than people anticipated , although we’re still in the pandemic, but things calmed down enough to have sports and boxing did do a good job of it last year and has done an excellent job of it this year. So I think there’s been a conscious effort whether it was collective or just individually driven for people in the sport to know that it was vitally important, that sport provide a product for people that they’re going to want to see.

P4P: Let’s just hope that we can keep on that pace and go from there.

I’d like to ask you about your work with the House of Boxing Champions….

AB: Yes, thanks for asking. Let me tell you about it. I’m working with them as supreme ambassador for them. I’m helping them at events, I’m helping to fundraise and helping them spread the word about the work they are doing. And when they do an event with a gym it’s part fundraiser, and it’s part them providing safety equipment and checks for fighters to have travel funds, to go to different regional and national events. And the first event I participated in was at the Tony Harrison’s Gym in Detroit. They provided a lot of safety equipment, headgear, wrappings, mouth guards, and all those things for the amateur boxers there. They’ll soon be announcing future dates with other gyms around the United States. They’ve already going to a number of gyms and I got on board with them for the last one, but people could go find out about them at www.houseofboxingchampions.com I’m just very excited to be involved with them because amateur boxing is a lifeblood, not only of the sport of boxing, it’s a way in the community that young men and women can change their lives.

And I don’t think anything about amateur boxing, how many gold medals you win, how many international championships are won means half as much as what goes on a day-to-day basis inside boxing gyms all around the United States, in which young people’s lives are changed. And that’s the kind of thing that I’m interested in. And that’s what House of Boxing Champions does. And that’s why they’re a very worthwhile organization to contribute to. They’re also worthwhile organization to work with for all the boxing people that can help provide things. And I am happy to spend my time helping them, not only spread the word, but also help them fundraise and help them have these events that are so important.

P4P: I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. I was involved with a boxing club here in Southern California for years and years, and yeah, a few champions went through those doors or top contenders, but at the end of the day, seeing these kids from the community coming in and playing pool or foosball and that type of thing, well that was what it was all about. And then maybe one of them will try to hit the bag or whatever, and who knows? But the outreach, it was for at risk youths. It helped turn some kids that maybe would have gone another direction down a better more positive path. So, I know firsthand what you’re doing is so beneficial for these young men.

AB: Yes. These gyms around the United States, change lives and these youngsters deserves to have the right safety equipment to make sure that they’re involved in a safe endeavor and I’m totally committed to it. And I’m very anxious to see them be able to reach out to as many amateur gyms as humanly possible in the United States and provide this equipment and to do that, of course they need help. They need funding and the cooperation of those involved in the world of boxing.

P4P: I can’t think of a better ambassador than Al Bernstein for these young men. And I’ll thank you for them, for taking part.

AB: Thank You. You know what, I appreciate that Bill, you try to give back to a sport that has given so much. Boxing has given me so much, in the last 40 years that when I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve tried to do things to give back to it, both on the amateur and professional basis. And I kind of consolidated a lot of my charitable efforts into this organization because I thought it made the most sense for me because of the mission statement it had.

P4P: We wish you the best with your endeavor. And, we wish you the best on keeping your energy, because you’re going to have a busy end of the year, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes out. Then we can speak at the beginning of 2022 to see how everything came down in the world of boxing.

AB: It’s going to be a fun last quarter of the year. We have already seen evidence of that. The Fury vs. Wilder fight wasone of the most exciting heavyweight championship fights ever. And there’s so many other fights dotting the landscape. We mentioned Crawford vs Porter, we mentioned some of the Showtime fights, Chocolatito and Estrada fighting each other, the list goes on and on.

I mean there’s so many great fights. Plant vs. Canelo and you just go on and on. There are several great looking fights in the last quarter. So I think it’s going to be very exciting. And I think boxing fans, when they look back on this year are going to say to themselves, ” okay this was fun, we had so many good fights”. And not just the main fights, a lot of the under card fights have been very, very exciting. I look back on a lot of these Pay-Per-View cards and of course the regular cards that were on different platforms and a lot of times the second and third fight were wildly exciting. And so I think that’s something that boxing has done better this year as well. And hopefully it’ll continue.

There is going to be a lot to talk about and I’m always available to you Bill, for whatever you need.

P4P: That my friend is nothing short of awesome. Thank You. Hey, listen Al, you have a great end of the year. I know you’re going to stay busy, so be safe out there and be well.

AB: All right, thanks Bill.

P4P: Have a great day. Bye-bye!

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