Brace yourself for what can only be a bit of boxing blasphemy.
But highly accomplished Mexican boxing agent Rafael Mendoza, known to some as “Il Padrino” and to others as “Cobra,” refuses to bow at the crowded with supplicants altar of Manny Pacquiao trainer Coach Freddie Roach.
Mendoza, long associated with dean of Mexico’s trainers Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, doesn’t say that the 50 year old Roach–winner of the Boxing Writers Trainer of the Year Aaward in 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009 and a likely candidate for the honor this year–is not competent.
But Mendoza, a 73 year old resident of Guadalajara, does opine that because of Pacman’s iconic rise, Roach has become overrated.
“No mistake,” Mendoza said by telephone from his posh pad, “Roach is a good, competent trainer. But Roach is now on an ego trip. He’s a good trainer, a standard trainer, nothing more than that.
“Look at Pacquiao, he’s no technical wizard in the ring. If Roach is so great, how come he worked with (former light heavyweight champion) Virgil Hill for five years and Hill never became any kind of big star?
“Pacquiao, he’s got an awkward, difficult to defend style. Pound for pound, he is the toughest guy anyone can fight. He’s fast, he’s an awkward southpaw. He can beat you with his legs. He reminds me a bit of Muhammad Ali who also did things wrong technically but got away with it so long. Pacquiao is not that fast, you can see his mistakes but it’s difficult to capitalize on them.”
I asked Mendoza how disgraced Antonio Margarito trainer Javier Capetillo, now barred in America due to his California suspension for attempting to illegally load handwraps, can be allowed to continue to ply his trade south of the border.
“Mexico and Mexicans, they don’t care about what California says,” Mendoza said. “You’ve got 50 percent of the public thinking Capetillo and Margarito were cheating and 50 percent who don’t think it. That’s good for PPV TV sales for the Nov. 13 fight between Manny and Margarito. But we have no reciprocation with California.”
Mendoza does not hold Capetillo in any high regard.
“He’s just a poor guy who went to the U.S. and he was selling tamales in the street and cleaning out spit buckets in a boxing gym. He had no food, no money, no nothing. He couldn’t go to the movies or anything else so he went to the gym where you can go with no money and he became a trainer, Mendoza said.
Mendoza, whose last major boxing job was a personal adviser to Oscar de la Hoya, has handled 22 world champions including slugger Pipino Cuevas and master boxer Miguel Canto.
Many years ago, he was a boxing writer based in New York City.
He’s worked closely with Golden Boy, with Bob Arum and with other major promoters over the years.
He was chief adviser to rising Mexican welterweight star Saul “Canela” Alvarez but said he walked away from that relationship because the fighter was not toeing the line.
In case you didn’t get his subtlety, Mendoza bites his tongue for nobody.