Editor’s Note: The following story was published on May 5, 2020 and was updated with the Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders fight on May 8.
This Saturday, May 8, marks the return to the ring of Mexican star Canelo Álvarez as part of the Cinco de Mayo weekend celebration, a year after the coronavirus pandemic took charge of putting a stop to that – and to the vast majority of sports around the world.
Álvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO) took over as the biggest draw around ‘Cinco de Mayo’ weekend after the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, who in turn took over from Oscar de la Hoya to raise the date. as one of the most anticipated annually in boxing.
Canelo, who also fights regularly in September as part of Mexico’s Independence, is 6-0 (3 KOs) fighting around Cinco de Mayo since 2010. He will face Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders in the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington this Saturday in a super middleweight unification bout that will be his third bout since December, earning victories over Callum Smith and Avni Yildirim in the process.
With all of that in mind, we detail Canelo’s performances as a professional boxer on or around Cinco de Mayo.
May 1, 2010: First PPV of Cinco de Mayo
Canelo made his debut as part of Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions stable, fighting on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley-headed PPV undercard. Canelo was badly shaken in the first round, and was taken to the ropes at one point – what could have been determined to be a knockdown – before bouncing back and coming back throughout the fight.
Outgunned 24-13 in power punches in that first round, Canelo more than doubled (181-67) the older Cotto for the remainder of the fight and punished him mercilessly in rounds 8 and 9, beating Cotto 70- 17 on total hits connected before the fight was stopped.
Five years later, Canelo, himself part of a boxing family with three older brothers in the sport, would defeat Cotto’s younger brother Miguel to win the middleweight title.
May 5, 2012: Unanimous decision on Shane Mosley
It’s true that Shane Mosley was 40 years old when this fight took place, and he had lost three of his previous six fights, but he’s still a future Hall of Famer, and Canelo punished him mercilessly.
The Mexican had to overcome a cut to his left eye caused by an accidental blow to the head and a slow start to the fight (he did not throw a fist for the first minute and a half). Still, he hit 57% of his power shots, and his 348 shots were the most connected against Mosley in 34 of his fights analyzed by CompuBox.
May 9, 2015: Impressive KO to James Kirkland
In his first headlining appearance on the HBO World Championship Boxing platform, Canelo delivered both in the ring and in the TV ratings against James Kirkland.
Kirkland had been inactive for 17 months prior to the fight, but there was a lot of action that night when Canelo dropped Kirkland three times, twice in the third round and in the final round, heading for a KO victory.
The fight, which took place a week after the disappointing Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown, had an average viewership of 2,146,000 and peaked at 2,296,000 viewers, the most on HBO WCB since Tarver-Hopkins in 2006. This solidified Canelo as a TV attraction in its own right; in fact, his next fight, against Miguel Cotto, would generate 900,000 pay-per-view buys in what was Canelo’s second-highest pay-per-view viewership at the time.
May 7, 2016: One-shot KO against Amir Khan
Canelo was a big junior middleweight, in fact, he would only have one more fight in the division after defeating Khan. And Khan was gaining weight after an undefeated streak at welterweight. But the knockout was so impressive that it is worth noting.
During the first four rounds, Khan was mostly successful keeping Canelo at bay with his boxing (Canelo had a 40-33 lead in connected punches). But in the fifth round, Canelo was landing 57% of his power shots, and in the sixth he finished it off with a huge right hand on the (much) smaller man.
May 6, 2017: Total dominance against Chávez Jr.
We review the fight: Canelo dominates Chávez Jr.
Canelo won the Mexican battle from start to finish on the weekend of Cinco de Mayo 2017.
The anticipated battle between Mexicans was a total dominance for Canelo when he faced Julio César Chávez Jr. the day after Cinco de Mayo at the T-Mobile Arena.
Canelo outscored Chávez 228-71 in connected punches and did not yield a single assault to the son of the ‘Legend’. Chávez entered the fight with 41% of his hits connected (the highest figure in CompuBox’s record), but only achieved a 24% effectiveness against Canelo, while Álvarez hit 43% of his power shots (145-340 ), very close to his pre-lawsuit average (46%).
The in-ring action was perhaps not the most memorable, but the match did very well (1.2 million PPV sales) and served as a springboard for Canelo’s fights against Gennadiy Golovkin.
May 4, 2019: Unify at middleweight against Jacobs
Canelo, who snapped Gennadiy Golovkin’s defending title record streak in his previous middleweight fight, came in as a -500 favorite (he was a 6-1 favorite for the Mosley fight). He won a close unanimous decision (116-112, 115-113, 115-113) by beating Jacobs 188-131 in total shots and 120-89 in power shots, with a much higher connection rate (40% -20 %).
With the victory, Canelo became the first Mexican boxer to have three belts simultaneously since the IBF emerged in 1983 (the era of the 3 belts).