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

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

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.

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:

2003: Oscar De La Hoya vs Yori Boy Campas

2004: Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez I

2005: Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo I

2006: Oscar De La Hoya vs Ricardo Mayorga

2007: Oscar De La Hoya vs Floyd Mayweather

2008: Oscar De La Hoya vs Steve Forbes (Note: This was originally meant to lead to Mayweather vs De La Hoya 2 later in 2008, but didn’t.)

2009: Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton

2010: Floyd Mayweather vs Shane Mosley

2011: Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley

2012: Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto

2013: Floyd Mayweather vs Robert Guerrero [Highlights]

2014: Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana I

2015: Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao [Highlights]

2016: Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan

2017: Canelo Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

2018: Gennadiy Golovkin vs Vanes Martirosyan (Note: This was originally meant to be Canelo vs GGG 2, but Canelo withdrew from the fight after his PED controversy. They instead rematched in Sept. 2018.)

2019: Canelo Alvarez vs Daniel Jacobs

2021: Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders

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.

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