- Kieran Mulvaney, Boxing
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On Saturday, boxing fans will celebrate the Mexican festival of Cinco de Mayo by watching an American and a Puerto Rican do battle in the Nevada desert. More than anybody else, Oscar De La Hoya -- an American of Mexican descent -- popularized Cinco de Mayo (or the Saturday nearest to it) as a big fight weekend in Las Vegas, but since his retirement, the aforementioned American (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) and the Philippines' Manny Pacquiao have been the date's biggest pugilistic stars. Hey, imagine how crazy it would be if the two of them ever ... no, let's not go there. We have an actual fight to look forward to this weekend, a title bout between Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, and in the meantime, here's a reminder of some of the best May 5(ish) fights in Sin City's recent history.
5. Julio Cesar Chavez TD8 Frankie Randall, May 7, 1994, MGM Grand
Earlier in the year, Randall's points victory in the same venue brought Chavez his first official loss, in his 91st professional bout. The rematch was closely fought, but when Chavez said he was unable to continue after being cut by an accidental clash of heads, he was declared the winner on a technical decision (aided by a WBC rule that the accidental butter always be deducted a point; without that stipulation, the result would have been a split-decision draw.) The fight was the main event of a Don King card called "Revenge: the Rematches" that featured Terry Norris, Simon Brown, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Azumah Nelson and Jesse James Leija in perhaps the most stacked pay-per-view broadcast in boxing history.
4. Oscar De La Hoya TKO6 Ricardo Mayorga, May 6, 2006, MGM Grand
De La Hoya's final victory on the Las Vegas stage, and what a stirring one it was. Mayorga had genuinely infuriated the Golden Boy with his prefight taunts, and the vastly superior former Olympian punished him for it, dropping him once in the first and twice in the sixth. At his peak, De La Hoya brought an unmatched electricity to fight crowds, and this night was no exception. The atmosphere was off the hook, and as De La Hoya climbed the ropes to salute his fans in victory, it felt at the time like the perfect coda to a Hall of Fame career.
3. Manny Pacquiao D12 Juan Manuel Marquez, May 8, 2004, MGM Grand
The first installment of an intense and ongoing rivalry almost didn't make it past the first round of this encounter. Pacquiao, fresh off his shocking annihilation of Marco Antonio Barrera, flattened Barrera's countryman three times in that opening frame. Somehow, Marquez survived and fought his way back into the contest. Two fights and eight years later, Marquez remains Pacquiao's nemesis, and vice versa.
2. Manny Pacquiao KO2 Ricky Hatton, May 2, 2009, MGM Grand
This year was Pacquiao's annus mirabilis, in which he followed his 2008 demolition of De La Hoya with stoppage wins over Cotto and, previously, Hatton. The Englishman was down twice in the first round, unable to escape Pacquiao's right hooks, but was working his way back into the contest until PacMan uncorked a thunderbolt of a left hand at the end of the second to leave him spread-eagle on the canvas.
1. Diego Corrales TKO10 Jose Luis Castillo, May 7, 2005, Mandalay Bay
One of the greatest fights of all time -- heck, one could make a case that it was the greatest fight of all time -- will be forever remembered for its conclusive 10th round. Castillo put down Corrales hard and seconds later knocked him down again. Corrales spat out his mouthpiece and earned a point deduction for doing so, but it bought him precious time while the mouthpiece was cleaned, time that trainer Joe Goossen used to tell Corrales, "You'd better f---ing get inside of him now." And so Corrales did, summoning the strength to crack Castillo with a perfect right hand and then tearing into him on the ropes until referee Tony Weeks stopped the contest.
Corrales never won another fight. Two years later, to the very day, he was dead. But his memory, and the memory of his greatest moment in a boxing ring, will live forever.