Boxing and Cinco De Mayo have gone hand-in-hand for some time now, with the day being baptized as somewhat of a holiday for the Sweet Science.
With Saul “Canelo” Alvarez facing Daniel Jacobs in a middleweight title-unification fight on May 4, a day away from the annual celebration — in remembrance of the Mexican Army’s win over the French Empire on May 5, 1862 — Sporting News takes a look back at 10 of most memorable Cinco de Mayo fights that happened on the day itself or in close proximity to it over the years.
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Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, May 2, 2015
It was a fight five years in the making, and when Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao finally happened at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, boxing fans and media alike were left saying that it was five years too late. Mayweather outboxed Pacquiao en route to a dominant unanimous decision in a bout that lacked the fireworks fight fans craved. But in the end, the hype train leading up to the fight was more than enough to generate upwards of 4.6 million pay-per-view buys and a reported total gross revenue of $410 million during the weekend leading up to Cinco De Mayo. And those numbers represent the knockout that the fight itself failed to deliver.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., May 6, 2017
The new pride of Mexico and face of boxing, Canelo Alvarez, up against the confident son of Mexican boxing legend, Julio Cesar Chavez, at the T-Mobile Arena a day after Cinco de Mayo couldn’t have been scripted better. Its “Civil War” billing and growing resentment between the fighters only added to the hype leading up to the bout, which was slated at a catch weight of 164.5 pounds.
Despite the actual fight being a Canelo shutout, with all three judges scoring it 120-108, the bout was still a big draw, as it generated a reported one million PPV buys and $80 million in revenue. It also served as a springboard for Canelo’s back-to-back wars with Gennady Golovkin, whom the Mexican superstar called out following his dominant performance against Chavez Jr.
Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana, May 3, 2014
Marcos Maidana was coming off a pulverizing unanimous decision win over Adrien Broner less than five months prior, when the hard-hitting Argentinian tested his punching power against Mayweather at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mayweather tabled talks to fight Amir Khan to exact revenge for his friend (at the time), Broner.
For Maidana, the mission was simple: Defeat Mayweather the way he did AB and he’d be the instant king of the ring. But Mayweather’s boxing mastery would ensure that didn’t happen, as he used his technical prowess to collect a majority decision in arguably the toughest scrap of his career. So tough that it punched a ticket and sort of wrote its own rematch four months later in September, when Mayweather again had his hand raised in victory.
Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto, May 5, 2012
Mayweather’s Cinco de Mayo victory over Oscar De La Hoya five years prior made the day and weekend officially his when it came to boxing supremacy. And Mayweather acted like it, coming down the aisle at the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night flanked by 50 Cent to his left and Justin Bieber on his right. But those good vibes quickly disintegrated when Mayweather found himself in a serious fight against Miguel Cotto, the Puerto Rican warrior, who hit the champ with enough shots inside to bloody his nose.
Although Mayweather pulled out the unanimous decision victory, stamped with a scintillating left uppercut in the final round, Cotto had earned the champ’s respect after their junior middleweight clash billed as “Ring Kings.” Mayweather called Cotto a “hell of a champion” and the “toughest guy” he’s ever fought afterwards in the ring. Fight fans ate up everything about this bout, as it did a reported 1.5 million PPV buys and raked in $94 million.
Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton, May 2, 2009
Ricky Hatton was just about a year-and-a-half removed from suffering his first pro loss via a 10th-round TKO at the hands of Mayweather. “The Hitman” had paired together two straight victories (against Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi) to work his way back, before challenging Pacquiao during the weekend leading up to Cinco de Mayo at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It wasn’t the best decision, as Pacquiao knocked the Brit out flat on his back with a vicious left hook to close the show to a raucous reaction in Las Vegas and surely the worldwide audience tuning in. Devastating KO.
Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya, May 5, 2007
Prior to the emergence of Mayweather and his transformation from “Pretty Boy” to “Money,” De La Hoya ran Cinco de Mayo like no other boxer. So, if anything, the super welterweight tilt between De La Hoya, the Mexican six-division world champion, and Mayweather, an undefeated four-division champ, was not only going to decide the best boxer, period, but also dole out bragging rights for the celebrated day and weekend moving forward.
The spirited fight didn’t disappoint, with Mayweather landing more punches toward a split-decision victory that De La Hoya felt like he did enough to earn himself. The fight broke the previous record of Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson II’s 1.95 million PPV buys with 2.7 million PPV buys. It also made a reported $120 million in revenue. The fact that it fell on Cinco de Mayo itself made it all the more sweeter.
Canelo vs. Shane Mosley, May 5, 2012
An undefeated Canelo entered this fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with a spotless 39-0 record against the cagey veteran in “Sugar” Shane Mosley, who had gone winless in his last three fights with a 0-2-1 record. Either Mosley, 40 at the time, was going to prove that he still had enough to beat the 21-year-old rising star, or Alvarez was going to ace his latest test with ease.
That latter happened, as Canelo dished out a beating. He overcame a headbutt that cut him open in the third round and showcased too much power and speed for Mosley to withstand, garnering a unanimous decision for his 40th professional win to the crowd’s approval on Cinco de Mayo. The bout served as the co-main event to Mayweather-Cotto and it wouldn’t take long for Canelo to face both fighters.
De La Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga, May 6, 2006
The over-the-top disrespect Mayorga showed De La Hoya throughout the promotion for the fight translated to the ring, where Mayorga dared “The Golden Boy” to hit him harder. De La Hoya, returning to the ring following a 20-month layoff, happily obliged by battering Mayorga to a pulp for a sixth-round TKO.
Diego Corrales vs. Jose Castillo, May 7, 2005
Corrales and Castillo walked into their fight at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on May 7, 2005, ready to unify their lightweight titles. They left having produced one of the most scintillating rounds in boxing history and etched a lasting memory in fight fans’ minds and hearts.
The electric 10th round had Castillo unleashing a vicious left hook, which crumbled Corrales in a heap. “Chico” removed his mouthpiece and glanced up at referee Tony Weeks, waiting for the eight count to get up off the mat. Seconds later, another left hook from Castillo dropped Corrales for the second time. Out came the mouthpiece again. This time, Corrales sprung up off the canvas at the count of nine. Weeks penalized Corrales a point for excessive mouthpiece removal, and a straight left from Castillo when the action resumed made it seem like the end was near.
But just then, with his back near the ropes, Corrales rocked Castillo with a debilitating right hook. Castillo’s knees buckled, as he held on to Corrales. But Corrales saw an opening out of the clinch and took it with a left hook to brush Castillo back. After trading shots over the next several seconds, Corrales unleashed another left hook and poured it on with a barrage of punches, including another left hook that had Castillo punch drunk up against the ropes. Weeks stepped in and stopped the fight, awarding the unlikely 10th-round TKO to Corrales in dramatic fashion. Amazing stuff.
Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Frankie Randall rematch, May 7, 1994
Well before De La Hoya helped make Cinco de Mayo an international boxing holiday, there was Mexican icon, Chavez, fighting Randall in one of the most highly-anticipated rematches in boxing history.
Chavez had suffered the first loss of his career to Randall just four months prior and was seeking revenge, not to mention his staggering 90th pro win. Chavez wound up with both, getting a split technical decision over Randall in their rematch, although the ruling came equipped with plenty of controversy, as the fight was ended in the eighth round by a doctor due to a gash that Chavez suffered from an inadvertent headbutt the round prior.