by Tim Harrison
Recent times have seen the weekend of Cinco De Mayo lay its claim to being one of boxing’s biggest weekends. It has become the holiest of holies, the grand poohbah, the 10-point buck, call it what you will. Since 2007, Cinco De Mayo weekend has featured boxing’s biggest attractions each year; from Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, to Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley in 2011, to Floyd Mayweather’s current four-year run of dominance of the weekend.
But it wasn’t always the biggest weekend of the year. Prior to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s May 2007 victory over Oscar De La Hoya, Cinco De Mayo weekend was more of a “ho-hum” deal. Dating back to the turn of the century, Cinco De Mayo weekend fights were significantly less of a spectacle. Oscar De La Hoya occasionally threw a showcase bout together for Cinco De Mayo weekend, taking on Yori Boy Campas in 2003 and Ricardo Mayorga in 2006, while Juan Manuel Marquez began his epic rivalry with Manny Pacquiao on Cinco De Mayo weekend in 2004.
So why exactly is Cinco De Mayo weekend such a big deal? Because some powerful people somewhere out there told us it is.
Historically, Cinco De Mayo was not that big a deal to those of Mexican heritage. It was recognized as the day the Mexican Army defeated the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862. Although the French Army would eventually overwhelm the Mexican forces at Puebla, they lost the war and retreated in 1867. Cinco De Mayo is only celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla, with the rest of the country sparsely choosing whether or not to recognize it.
But in the United States, where it was thrust upon us that overpriced roses and chocolates were to be gifted to our significant others on St. Valentine’s Day, Cinco De Mayo is a big deal. Next to St. Patrick’s Day it is the biggest party day of the year. But since Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, no Mexican fighter has been the A-side of a Cinco De Mayo weekend fight.
Since Mayweather, adorned in Mexico’s green, white, and red, defeated Oscar De La Hoya and began his rapid ascent to being the sport’s number one star, Cinco De Mayo is the time when the rest of the world has its eyes on the oft-forgotten world of boxing. Cinco De Mayo has become Mayweather’s day, a day where he can see the culmination of a lifetime’s work in the gym and the ring come to fruition in the form of a large cashier’s check.
The sand in the hourglass of Mayweather’s career is running out. His reflexes are slowing, and his interest in the fights is no longer fully present. The scorecards in his last three fights have been dangerously close, despite his dominance in two of those three fights (against Canelo Alvarez and his rematch against Maidana). He’s no longer being given the benefit of every doubt. The dreaded loss is gaining ground. Mayweather’s retirement is expected to come with the expiration of the 6-fight, 300 million dollar contract he signed with Showtime Sports in 2013, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the next big star out of Mexico is unwilling to wait patiently for his turn.
Alvarez’s intentions to fight at the MGM Grand on May 2 of this year signal his intentions to take Mayweather’s spot at the table. While Alvarez was unable to unseat Mayweather in the ring, he is looking to do so from the board room. And while Alvarez impatiently awaits a less-than-eager Miguel Cotto to sign his name on the dotted line, the world awaits Mayweather’s announcement of his May 2 opponent. Will the fight with Pacquiao finally be made (don’t hold your breath), or will Mayweather steal Miguel Cotto away from Alvarez, just as he stole Cotto away from Pacquiao in 2012? Or will Alvarez first officially stake his claim to the holiest of holies?
Cinco De Mayo weekend is Mayweather’s day. It’s his claim to the throne. Canelo Alvarez wants to take it from him. MGM is the mecca of boxing on Cinco De Mayo weekend. Will the King’s reign continue on until he chooses to walk away, or will he be unseated, betrayed by the arena he called home, tossed aside like a red-headed step child, by the “Red-Headed Step Champion” (nickname courtesy of Paul Magno), Saul “Canelo” Alvarez?