Boxing is the pride of Mexico. Yes, soccer has its place alongside other major international sports celebrated by the country but boxing holds a special place in the hearts of every Mexican.
It’s the renegade, one-on-one spirit embodied by national heroes like Pancho Villa and the spirit of Aztec emperor Montezuma that drive the ferocity of Mexican boxers and their fans.
This weekend, two of the sport’s biggest stars are facing each other and the fact that they both are Mexican with storied legacies is no small feat. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1) will take on Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1) this Saturday during Cinco de Mayo weekend to determine who is the better of the two Mexican superstars.
Since his loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in 2013, the man called “Cinnamon” in Spanish has been on a roll. Alvarez’s last few fights are a who’s who of weight class big names like Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan, all of which he defeated handily. Canelo is one of the last of the pay-per-view stars of Mayweather’s era after Manny Pacquiao and this fight with Chavez is sure to do great numbers.
This is not the first time that Alvarez has headlined a Cinco de Mayo weekend, the last being his May 5th 2012 victorious clash against “Sugar” Shane Mosley for the WBC light middleweight title. He also fought Amir Khan on May 7th 2016 in Las Vegas where has taken the de facto "Cinco de Mayo crown" from Floyd Mayweather.
For Chavez, Jr. this is a legacy fight and a chance to step even further out of his father’s illustrious boxing shadow. The senior Chavez headlined two Cinco de Mayo events in Las Vegas during his career and both outings were successful; His 6th round TKO over Terrence Alli in 1993 when he retained the WBC and lineal light welterweight titles and his rubber match technical decision win over Frankie Randall in 1994.
Chavez, Jr. has always been seen as one of the bad boys in boxing with a reputation akin to the Diaz brothers in MMA. Although a multiple weight class titlist, he hasn’t had the same appeal as his ginger hair-colored opponent in Mexico or in the states. The name Chavez in boxing is still synonymous solely with his father who most credit with being better than Floyd Mayweather for going 89-0 before tasting his first defeat. Chavez, Jr. crept up on Floyd’s current record of 49-0 losing for the first time on his 48th fight yet he still doesn’t command the same historical respect.
For fans of brawler style Mexican fighting, this match up pairs Canelo’s power and boxing intellect against Chavez Jr.’s brawler style and total abandon of self-preservation. It is a fight that will define both fighters future and will set a tone in the Mexican boxing ranks by establishing who truly is the best. Set at a catch-weight maximum of 164.5 lbs., a lot of pressure will be on Chavez, Jr. to make weight and propel the Chavez family name to higher heights. Not since his loss to Sergio Martinez in 2012 has this much hype been around any fight for Chavez and honestly, he has never truly tasted this level of fanfare.
The task will be daunting for both men but rest assured that the sold-out crowd of 20,000 will be full of Mexican pride and athletic anxiety as “La Raza” takes the world stage at the T-Mobile Arena this Saturday.