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Cinco de Mayo: A boxing history

Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/GGG Promotions
Fighters Network

Cinco de Mayo has been observed in Mexican culture since the Mexican army beat the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.

In boxing circles, the observance first took hold in the 1990s, when Julio Cesar Chavez gained a measure of revenge, edging Frankie Randall, by technical decision, in their controversial rematch on May 7, 1994, as the headline bout of Don King’s celebrated “Revenge of the Rematches” card.

Oscar De La Hoya and Marco Antonio Barrera fought on Cinco de Mayo weekend in the following years. In the early-2000s, Cinco de Mayo gained more traction but it didn’t become the biggest date on the boxing calendar until the mid-2000s. Ahead of this weekend’s bout between unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin and late-substitute Vanes Martirosyan, looks back at the most significant boxing events held on Cinco de Mayo Weekends past.


Oscar De La Hoya (right) vs. Yori Boy Campas. Image courtesy of YouTube


May 3, 2003 – Oscar De La Hoya TKO 7 Yori Boy Campas: De La Hoya easily kept his RING Magazine/WBA/WBC junior middleweight titles, bashing up Campas before the Mexican’s corner threw in the towel late in the seventh round. This win set De La Hoya up for bigger business on Mexican Independence Day Weekend, in a rematch with Shane Mosley, who was in attendance. A solid undercard saw Erik Morales and Jorge Arce retain their world titles and Ivan Calderon win his first world title.


Juan Manuel Marquez (left) vs. Manny Pacquiao I. Photo credit: Associated Press


May 8, 2004 – Juan Manuel Marquez D 12 Manny Pacquiao: The first of what would be four encounters between the pair. Things almost never got that far, Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in a traumatic opening round for the Mexican. To his immense credit, Marquez pulled himself together and boxed well for the remainder of the bout. At the conclusion of 12 rounds, the fight was declared a draw, allowing Marquez to retain his IBF/WBA featherweight titles. In chief support, Miguel Cotto outpointed battle-hardened Lovemore Ndou to position himself for a world title fight.


Diego Corrales (right) vs. Jose Luis Castillo I. Photo credit: Eric Jamison/Associated Press


May 7, 2005 – Diego Corrales TKO 10 Jose Luis Castillo: The two best lightweights in the world met in a WBC/WBO unification bout, with the vacant RING championship also on the line. From the beginning, neither man relented and the fight built to a cresendo of which Hollywood would be proud. Both men showed wear and tear from a fast-paced, all-action fight for the ages. Finally in the 10th, Castillo broke through and dropped his rival twice. Corrales bravely gathered himself and rose but the end looked in sight. However out of nowhere, he landed a devastating left hook that visibly hurt Castillo. The comeback of all comebacks was on; Corrales threw several shots and had Castillo falling back into the ropes with his eyes rolling into his head, forcing referee Tony Weeks to jump in and end the action. The fight was later named THE RING’s “Fight of the Year.” Juan Manuel Marquez also boxed a master class 12-round clinic on the undercard to retain his IBF/WBA featherweight titles against Victor Polo.



May 6, 2006 – Oscar De La Hoya TKO 6 Ricardo Mayorga: After losing to Bernard Hopkins at middleweight, De La Hoya dropped back down to junior middleweight and needed to re-position himself. What better protagonist than Mayorga, who held the WBC junior middleweight title, against whom to do so? De La Hoya was too sharp for the Nicaraguan and dropped him early and then proceeded to beat him up until Mayorga was spared any further punishment when referee Jay Nady intervened midway through the sixth round.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) vs. Oscar De La Hoya. Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press Images


May 5, 2007 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. SD 12 Oscar De La Hoya: The biggest of the Cinco de Mayo dates at this point. De La Hoya was the star and Mayweather a burgeoning star. The pair contested for De La Hoya’s WBC 154-pound title and the star-studded event was attended by Jack Nicholson, P. Diddy, Leonardo DiCaprio and a host of other celebrities. Mayweather was a slight 3-2 pre-fight favorite. The fight was closely contested and, at the final bell, Mayweather was awarded a split decision victory. The fight did a then-record 2.45 million pay-per-view buys in North America.


Oscar De La Hoya (left) vs. Steve Forbes. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos


May 3, 2008 – Oscar De La Hoya UD 12 Steve Forbes: De La Hoya returned from the Mayweather loss at the Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center), in front of around 25,000 and posted a near shut-out against Steve Forbes, in a 150-pound catchweight fight.


Manny Pacquiao (right) vs. Ricky Hatton. Photo credit: Action Images


May 2, 2009 – Manny Pacquiao KO 2 Ricky Hatton: Pacquiao had beaten up De La Hoya the previous December and Hatton had bounced back with two wins since losing to Mayweather. The two collided at the MGM Grand – for Hatton’s RING 140-pound title – in front of a sizable throng of British fans who had made the journey. Hatton came out fast and looked to use his greater size to bully the Filipino, who countered with his better speed to drop Hatton twice in the opening round. The end was nigh and Pacquiao landed a howitzer of a left hand knocking Hatton out cold.



May 1, 2010 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. UD 12 Shane Mosley: Mayweather – a 4-1 favorite – had to survive the most difficult moment of his career when he was hurt in the second round. He stayed on his feet and rode out the rough spell to put on a boxing clinic, winning a wide unanimous decision. The fight drew 1.4 million on PPV and was attended by myriad stars from around sports and show business, including Muhammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Will Smith. Canelo Alvarez made his Las Vegas debut on the undercard.


May 7, 2011 – Manny Pacquiao UD 12 Shane Mosley: Pacquiao dropped and bested a weary Mosley over 12 rounds to retain his WBO welterweight title. Afterward Mosley admitted he’s never been hit like that in his career before. On the undercard, Arce won a terrific fight against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., stopping the Puerto Rican in the final round to win the WBO 122-pound title.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. (right) vs. Miguel Cotto. Photo credit: John Locher/Associated Press


May 5, 2012 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. UD 12 Miguel Cotto: Mayweather stepped back up to junior middleweight and edged Cotto in a competitive fight to win the WBA title. Although Cotto had his successes, notably bloodying Mayweather’s nose, he lost a unanimous decision. The fight was a PPV success, selling 1.5 million buys. Mayweather made 32 million dollars for this fight – not including his cut of PPV figures – then the largest fight purse ever. In chief support, Canelo outpointed Mosley by wide unanimous decision.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) vs. Robert Guerrero. Photo credit: Associated Press Images


May 4, 2013 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. UD 12 Robert Guerrero: In the first fight of his six-fight Showtime deal, Mayweather used his superlative skills to out-box Robert Guerrero by wide unanimous decision, to retain his WBC 147-pound title and win the vacant RING championship. Mayweather tied his own record for fight purses in this fight. Abner Mares became a three-division world champion on the undercard, stopping Daniel Ponce De Leon for the WBC 126-pound belt.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. (right) vs. Marcos Maidana. Photo credit: Naoki Fukuda


May 3, 2014 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. MD 12 Marcos Maidana I: Mayweather recovered from a slow start to edge the hard-charging Argentinean by close majority decision, to retain his RING and WBC belts and win the vacant WBA strap. Maidana, who outweighed Mayweather by 17 pounds on fight night, felt he had done enough to win and met Mayweather in a September rematch.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) vs. Manny Pacquiao. Photo credit: Steve Marcus/Reuters


May 2, 2015 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. UD 12 Manny Pacquiao: After years of posturing, finally, Mayweather and Pacquiao met in the highest grossing fight in history and sold an eye-opening 4.6 million PPV homes. Despite the hoopla, the fight was rather tame. Mayweather simply shut the Filipino congressman down and won a unanimous decision.



May 7, 2016 – Canelo Alvarez KO 6 Amir Khan: With Mayweather retiring and relinquishing his stranglehold on the prime boxing date, Canelo stepped into the breach. He defended his RING middleweight championship against Khan, who had long hoped for a super-fight with either Mayweather or Pacquiao. When neither accepted the bout, he took the bold move of stepping up to middleweight – both men weighed an agreed 155 pounds. Early on, Khan’s speed troubled the naturally bigger Mexican; however, as the rounds passed, Canelo found his timing and, in the sixth, landed a fight-ending right hand over the top, knocking Khan out.


Canelo Alvarez (right) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


May 6, 2017 – Canelo Alvarez UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: For several years, both men – the two most popular Mexicans of their time, Canelo the star, Chavez the anointed star by virtue of his famous last name – had jawed at each other. They met at a contracted 164.5 pounds. Chavez looked weak and made little effort to win; Canelo won a disappointing encounter by shut-out decision.


Gennady Golovkin (left) and Vanes Martirosyan face off during a media workout event for their May 5 middleweight title bout. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/GGG Promotions


May 5, 2018 – Gennady Golovkin vs. Vanes Martirosyan: When Canelo tested positive for clenbuterol, a replacement was sought. At relatively late notice, longtime junior middleweight contender and former Olympian Vanes Martirosyan stepped in to save this weekend’s show.




Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.




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