By Michael Marley
He's been the chief adviser to 23 world champions, going back to an era when boxing had fewer world champs than pro rassling does. He's been closely associated with promotional archrivals Top Rank and Golden Boy. And he launched the meteoric ring career of unbeaten Mexican wunderkind Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
His many friends refer to him as the "Mexican Cobra." His name is Rafael Mendoza, better known to me for four decades as "The Godfather." A former sportswriter for huge Mexican daily newspaper Esto, Mendoza still has his pulse centrally locared on boxing as he nears his 75th birthday on April 20.
The veteran fight operative says you can make book on two things right now, one, that Floyd Maytwitter and Manny Pacquiao will not fight in May and that the American will fight Mendoza's ex-protege, the ginger-haired Alvarez, on May 5 at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
"Forget about (Robert) Guerrero, they call him 'Ghost" because he's got a a ghost of a chance of landing this fight against Floyd. I know he speaks English and Spanish and Canelo, despite being on HBO seven times or whatever, does not speak any English.
"But Canelo sells tickets. Canelo has a big market and what does Guerrero have? He's from a small town known only for its garlic crop," the former adviser to Mexican KO king Pipino Cuevas said.
"Look at when Canelo fought on the undercard of Mayweather-Mosley at the MGM, they drew 15,000 people. I believe that 14,000 of them were Mexicans who came to see Canelo's Las Vegas debut. Do you think those Mexican fans cared for Mayweather and Mosley? No, because Mexicans do not like how Mayweather fights, the hate his style.
"Canelo is the opponent who fits in for the date of May 5, the big Cinco de Mayo holiday. Most Mexicans know Canelo cannot win but they don't care. They will spend $60 for the pay per view TV and another $60 to buy 10 sixpacks of beer. To them, it will be a good excuse to get drunk.
"In their minds, they won't be paying to see Mayweather, they will be paying to see the Mexican fighter."
Mendoza revealed that Alvarez is embroiled in a lawsuit with Miami promoter Tutico Zabala and that the popular fighter is about to be deposed in that tortious interference case. Mendoza said that Zabala has also sued Golden Boy.
"The only fighter Mayweather can sell tickets with on May 5 is Canelo so that will be who Floyd fights. Of this, I have no doubt."