Al Bernstein takes to the woodshed

Monday afternoon, Showtime’s Al Bernstein sent along a few comments about our article from Saturday night.


Email From: Al Bernstein <>


Sent: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:44 PM

Subject: Bute-Johnson

Jim: I never, ever respond to stories, so maybe it’s just the mood I’m in today. Your comments about our “masking agents” were absurd We did not have any kind of agenda, so they were not masking agents–and they were not clichés–you misquoted most of them to make them sound like clichés.

We pointed out many times that it was a disappointing performance by Johnson and the fight was not as scintillating as we would all like. But, it’s our job to analyze what’s happening so, those comments that you denigrated (if quoted properly) were analyzing the event. What did you want us to do, spend 12 rounds saying it was not an exciting fight–that’s repetitive and non-productive–especially because there were many moments when Bute created excitement with a barrage of punches to try and get Johnson out. In 30 years of broadcasting I have NEVER been a schill for anything, and I was not on Saturday. If you were a broadcaster perhaps you would understand some of the dynamics I am talking about, but you are not.

Talking about him coming down to the 168 division for the third straight time at age 42 is not making an excuse for him, it’s stating a fact and pointing out that it may have had something to do with his performance. That’s good journalism–not schilling. That’s analysis, taking a fact and pointing it out to the viewer, who, like us, is trying to figure out why Glen Johnson is fighting such a lethargic fight. As you should know, if you are a learned boxing writer, Glen Johnson is always an active, aggressive fighter. So, either he got old (which we also suggested) or something else affected his performance. After all, only months earlier he had given Carl Froch a really good fight. And, say what you want, Bute did some very good things in this fight. And, I can tell you that Bute did take chances in an effort to go for a KO and make things exciting–he led with his head, squared himself up and looked for big shots instead of fighting as a true southpaw from a distance. If you do know boxing, then you would know all that to be true. I did not make that stuff up–it HAPPENED. You did not like our commentating–well, I guess what, I don’t like yor article, especially because you fictionalized what we did as commentators. If you are looking for guys with an agenda who don’t pay attention to the action–it is not us, perhaps you are confusing us with another network.

Al Bernstein’s response:

Dear Mr. Bernstein, I certainly appreciate your response to my article and as I once told you, I’ve always admired your work. I would never call you a shill.

You were right about my intent though. I was poking fun at the lighthearted comments of your group. Just like the performers in the ring, you gentleman are center stage and out of necessity, you have to divert our attention away from a poor performance. Johnson fought a one dimensional fight, throwing a one-two, left-right combination with an occasional hook, and never changed his strategy.

Did your announcing crew do a good job? Excellent, under the circumstances. That’s why your group is held in such high esteem. If anyone is to blame for the fight being a snoozer, that blame has to go to the boxers.

Since boxers of their stature are paid handsomely, it’s expected they will put on a great show and in this contest the wishes of the fans were ignored. When faced with such a blah fight, it’s common for boxing writers to let their mind drift off into the realm of absurdity.

Here are some more gems from fellow boxing writers: “He appeared to win most rounds.” Are you kidding me? This guy must have been watching a different fight. Bute won every round.

Someone else wrote, “He kept up a furious tempo to force Johnson to keep his gloves upraised with a high guard.”

If that’s all it takes to keep Johnson’s gloves up in high guard, then from here on out everyone should be able to beat him.

This clip from Saturday’s fight helps illustrate my claims:

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