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From Oscar to Floyd to Canelo: The modern history of Cinco De Mayo boxing

Cinco De Mayo weekend is known for its big fights, and another is coming on Saturday with Canelo Alvarez in his fifth main event of the weekend.

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Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, and Canelo Alvarez have been the kings of the modern Cinco De Mayo boxing weekend
Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, and Canelo Alvarez have been the kings of the modern Cinco De Mayo boxing weekend
Robert Beck /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images, Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images, Al Bello/Getty Images

What we’ve come to call “Cinco De Mayo weekend” in boxing is always a big one for the sport, but the history of today’s tradition — a big fight on, actually, the first Saturday of May — is still pretty young, not really getting started until Oscar De La Hoya fought Yori Boy Campas on May 3, 2003, so just 19 years ago.

There have, of course, been other big fights in the sport’s history on the first Saturday of May, but we’re talking strictly about the modern phenomenon, which De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather took to another level in 2007, shattering pay-per-view records, which would then be shattered again eight years later by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

De La Hoya got it started. The torch passed to Mayweather, with Pacquiao chiming in with fights in 2009 and 2011. Starting in 2016, it became Canelo Alvarez’s Saturday, something he was primed to take over by fighting on the Mayweather-Mosley and Mayweather-Cotto undercards in 2010 and 2012.

A couple of years ago, we ranked these fights (through 2019, of course), as we were in the early days of the COVID lockdown with no boxing, and nothing at all happening on Cinco De Mayo weekend. This year, here’s a list of all the fights, with links provided to the fights for you to watch where possible:

The two biggest fights, clearly, were Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2015 and De La Hoya-Mayweather in 2007. The two best fights, clearly, are still Pacquiao-Marquez in 2004 and Corrales-Castillo in 2005.

(I do know Pacquiao-Marquez was on May 8, so not the first Saturday of the month, but at the time nobody really knew it was going to become a “tradition”; frankly, you could argue that De La Hoya-Mayorga in 2006 is probably the real start of the consistent idea behind what the Saturday has become, but it feels lame to count De La Hoya-Campas, which should be counted, and not Pacquiao-Marquez or Corrales-Castillo, just for myth-building purposes.)

Most All-Time Main Event Appearances

  • Six: Floyd Mayweather
  • Four: Canelo Alvarez, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao
  • Two: Shane Mosley
  • One: Yori Boy Campas, Jose Luis Castillo, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Diego Corrales, Miguel Cotto, Steve Forbes, Gennadiy Golovkin, Robert Guerrero, Ricky Hatton, Daniel Jacobs, Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, Juan Manuel Marquez, Vanes Martirosyan, Ricardo Mayorga, Billy Joe Saunders

Canelo will pass De La Hoya and Pacquiao this Saturday, of course, and Dmitry Bivol will add his name to the history.