It has long been understood that if you are a Mexican superstar fighter, you will be fighting on Cinco de Mayo weekend, which has traditionally become the date and stage for boxing’s biggest mega-events. Thanks to the precocious 21-year-old WBC Super Welterweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez, it’s clear that this fistic holiday tradition will continue well into the future.
In that vein, Canelo will be defending his title against Six-Time and Three-Division World Champion Sugar Shane Mosley as the co-main event of “Ring Kings: Mayweather vs. Cotto,”on Saturday, May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. which will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View®.
Canelo will be making his second Cinco de Mayo appearance, with his first being on May 1, 2010, when he defeated Jose Miguel Cotto on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s win over Mosley. This year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration will also mark the 150th anniversary of the famous Mexican military victory over the French in 1862.
Along with Cinco de Mayo weekend, Mexico’s Independence Day weekend has also long been a traditional weekend for Mexico’s most celebrated fighters to step into the ring. Canelo has been in the spotlight for three straight Mexican Independence Day weekends, knocking out Carlos Herrera in Puebla, Mexico on Sept. 15, 2009, knocking out Carlos Baldomir on Sept. 18, 2010 in Los Angeles at STAPLES Center and stopping Alfonso Gomez on Sept. 17 of last year, also in Los Angeles at STAPLES Center.
Canelo’s ascent to holiday headliner is something that’s been important to his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, and its president, Oscar de la Hoya, who long fought on these holidays himself.
“It has become a rite of passage, as well as a sign of greatness, when a Mexican or Mexican-American fighter is given the opportunity to fight on either Cinco de Mayo weekend or Mexican Independence Day weekend,” said De La Hoya. “Those weekends mean a great deal to our Hispanic fans. It also means that a fighter is a tremendous box office draw. Canelo is heir to the throne. His popularity and appeal among sports fans, both Hispanic and non-Hispanics, has led him to his prominent place on the May 5 card.”
Canelo’s fight with Mosley is the biggest of his career. A win over the future Hall of Famer will launch the undefeated Canelo (39-0-1, 29 KO’s) to an even higher level of stardom. He could take ownership of these nights, joining the ranks of other popular Mexican fighters who have participated in Cinco de Mayo weekend and Mexican Independence Day weekend events.
Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. took on Terrance Alli and Frankie Randall on Cinco de Mayo weekends in 1993 and 1994 respectively. He also went to battle on five consecutive Mexican Independence Day weekends in the early 1990s, defeating Lonnie Smith and Hector Camacho Sr., drawing with Pernell Whitaker and beating Meldrick Taylor and David Kamau. He passed the holiday torch to De La Hoya on Sept. 18, 1998, and his last bout before retiring was on Sept. 17, 2005.
De La Hoya headlined Cinco de Mayo events in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008, knocking out Yory Boy Campas and Ricardo Mayorga, losing to Mayweather and defeating Steve Forbes respectively. The Golden Boy was also a familiar face on Mexican Independence Day weekend, facing Camacho Sr. in 1997, Chavez Sr. in 1998, Felix Trinidad in 1999, Fernando Vargas in 2002, Mosley in 2003 and Bernard Hopkins in 2004.
The epic battle between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo took place on May 7, 2005. On that undercard was Juan Manuel Marquez, no stranger himself to fighting on the Mexican holiday weekends with his first bout against Manny Pacquiao coming on May 8, 2004 and having fought on Mexican Independence Day weekend cards in 2004, 2008 and 2009 against Orlando Salido, Joel Casamayor and Mayweather.
Marquez’s compatriots, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, both fought on several occasions around Independence Day. Barrera defeated Robbie Peden in 2005 and Rocky Juarez in 2006, and Morales beat Junior Jones in 1998 and Pablo Cesar Cano last year.
These two holiday weekends and the legendary fighters who have fought on them have given Mexicans and Mexican-Americans many reasons to celebrate. Canelo Alvarez has the talent and charisma to give them one more reason for several more years to come.