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Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao: Can Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders emulate these Cinco de Mayo classics?

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Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez's upcoming super-middleweight unification superfight with Billy Joe Saunders takes place on May 8, live on DAZN everywhere except Mexico, which makes it 2021's big Cinco de Mayo fight.

The Mexican holiday, held on May 5 each year, usually sees a big boxing spectacle land on the nearest Saturday, often (but not always) with an elite Latin boxer involved which ensures a huge crowd and a feverish atmosphere.

The timing of Canelo vs. Saunders will no doubt make the occasion even bigger than it already is, but where will it ultimately rank among the all-time great Cinco weekend clashes, when the dust settles?

Here are some of the biggest and best showdowns at that stage of the calendar year.

Floyd Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision, May 2015 

A fight that was six years in the making finally saw Floyd Mayweather prove himself as the fighter of his generation as he widely outpointed Manny Pacquiao in a drama free encounter. For years, both fighters had built their legend with several outstanding displays and all that was left for either man was each other. 

Mayweather started better and his excellent jab was enough to keep early Pacquiao attacks at distance. The Filipino southpaw did enjoy some brief moments of success as the fight wore on but it was often Mayweather who seemed to be in control. After the final bell, boxing’s biggest ever PPV audience was in no doubt who had won and the judges confirmed their suspicions with a unanimous decision for Mayweather. 

Floyd Mayweather beat Oscar De La Hoya via split decision, May 2007 

A fight where the baton was passed as Floyd Mayweather, courtesy of a tight points win, sneaked past Oscar De La Hoya to become the sport’s number one draw. “The Golden Boy” had possessed major box office appeal since winning Olympic gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and he transferred his vested glory into professional success as he captured world titles in six divisions. 

For Mayweather, his rise to the top was straightforward but his desire for the spotlight irked him for large portions of his career until he met De La Hoya. Boosted by the debut of HBO’s critically acclaimed 24/7 series, Mayweather's bling lifestyle was a hit with viewers and after getting the nod on the scorecards, the man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a global boxing superstar. 

Diego Corrales beat Jose Luis Castillo via 10th-round TKO, May 2005  

Boxing fans knew they were likely to get an all-action battle when Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo met in Las Vegas in 2005. What later transpired shocked everybody watching as two of boxing’s most gutsy warriors delivered an instant classic that featured unimaginable drama. 

Following nine hellacious rounds with hardly any break in the action, Castillo seemingly broke his opponent's will. Dropping Corrales twice in the tenth session, it looked a formality that the man from Mexico would register a memorable win. Corrales, who had bought time following the knockdowns by spitting out his gumshield, refused to wilt and after hurting Castillo with a desperate shot, he carried on punching before the referee called time on a stunning contest. 

Julio Cesar Chavez beat Frankie Randall via eight-round technical decision, May 1994  

Long before Cinco De Mayo became a boxing tradition dominated by the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao, it was Julio Cesar Chavez who brought the crowds to Las Vegas. After suffering his first career loss four months earlier to Frankie Randall, Chavez was desperate to settle the score in their immediate rematch. 

With the pair fighting up close throughout the contest and both enjoying big moments, a clash of heads in the seventh round brought a large cut above Chavez’ eye and the fight doctor halted proceedings in the following session. The fight went to the scorecards with the Mexican idol getting the nod. 

Manny Pacquiao beat Ricky Hatton via second-round knockout, May 2009 

After suffering his first career loss to Floyd Mayweather at the back end of 2007, Ricky Hatton had rebuilt brilliantly with a number of solid wins. In Manny Pacquiao, he was facing a fighter who had just ended the career of Oscar De La Hoya but it was a bout being contested at 140lbs, a weight division that Hatton had dominated before stepping up to welterweight against Mayweather. 

In arguably the best performance of Pacquiao’s career — which speaks volumes — the man from the Philippines destroyed Hatton. After dropping the Manchester hero three times in the opening round, Pacquiao found a devastating shot at the end of round two that left Hatton out cold. 

Watch Canelo vs. Saunders Saturday May 8 on DAZN worldwide (except Mexico).

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