By Mauricio Sulaimán
Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC
The celebration of the Independence of Mexico is the one of greatest festivities of our country, and for all our compatriots living in other countries all around the world whose hearts are forever Mexican.
The famous, traditional, brave and beloved “Grito” is a rallying and uniting summons for our people. It’s the core and the fundamental essence and pride of being Mexican. The consulates and embassies hold special events, all the municipalities present the ceremony of traditional Mexican independence, and a great fiesta is held where the sense of belonging and love for Mexico is unique plus welling and deep.
The migrants, who left to seek a new life in the United States, began a great tradition of celebrating this date in a big way, and somehow boxing became linked to these celebrations, positioning itself, along with Cinco de Mayo (May 5), as a Great Party Celebration in Los Angeles, Chicago and several cities in Texas but, above all, in Las Vegas.
Year after year, Mexico embraces Las Vegas with a cascade of concerts by the most renowned artists and, of course, the most important fights, starring the most transcendental boxer in the world.
Salvador Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chávez, Erik Morales, Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather took the significant step to fight during this weekend, until this great honor was granted to who is the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
In 2020, the pandemic prevented any celebration from taking place and there was no boxing. In this year, the negotiations dragged on and on, so it became impossible to schedule Canelo’s fight against Caleb Plant, which was finally slated for November 6 at MGM.
Brandon Figueroa was scheduled to fight Stephen Fulton in a unification fight, however Covid 19 infection prevented this fight from happening, so it was yet another dark September 16 in Las Vegas in terms of boxing.
The World Boxing Council decided to transfer the September commemorative belt for this fight so the Teotihuacán Belt will find an owner in that magnificent night, in which the winner will also become the first undisputed super middleweight champion in all history by getting the four belts (WBC, WBO, IBF and WBA).
The World Boxing Council decided to enshrine September as Boxing`s zenith celebration.
The great Salvador Sánchez knocked out Patrick Ford in 15 rounds in San Antonio in 1980, and Rafael “Bazooka” Limón beat Chung Il Choi in 1982.
The then-unknown and unheralded young Julio César Chávez was crowned WBC super featherweight world champion by knocking out the distinct favorite Mario “Azabache” Martínez on September 15, 1984 in Los Angeles, and on that very fabled night the legend was born.
During the 90s, J.C. dominated to become the owner of this date, and in 1992 the long-awaited fight against his arch-rival Héctor “Macho” Camacho took place. All of Mexico was there with him and Chávez battered Camacho, who later became his great friend. Such is the brotherhood of Boxing.
In 1993, Don King promoted a wonderful card at the Alamodome in San Antonio: Azumah Nelson vs. Jesse James Leija, Terry Norris vs. Joe Gatti, and Chávez trying his utmost to be crowned at welterweight and, in a very difficult and highly controversial fight, he drew against Pernell Whitaker.
The following year, on another magnificent and memorable card featuring Ricardo “Finito” López, Tito Trinidad, Frankie Randall, Gabriel Ruelas and Jesse James Leija, Chavez knocked out Meldrick Taylor in eight action-packed rounds. In 1995, Chávez defeated David Kamau.
By 1997, the leadership towards this date changed and the mantle graced other shoulders; Óscar de la Hoya came, saw, conquered, reigned and remained on the throne for many years. The Golden Boy beat Macho Camacho that year and by 1998, he had a second fight against Julio Cesar Chavez, packing out the Thomas & Mack Center and, in an outright war, he beat J.C. in eight rounds.
The following year there was a fight anticipated by all, as two undefeated warriors unified the welterweight division, that night De La Hoya narrowly lost to Félix “Tito” Trinidad.
Oscar returned after difficult moments with determination and characteristic brilliance to again capture glory by beating his East L.A. rival, Fernando Vargas, in 2002. In 2003, De La Hoya lost a controversial decision to Shane Mosley, and in 2004 he was knocked out by Bernard Hopkins, who had since become his trusted business partner and great friend. The bond of Boxing with its hard punches, but no hard feelings wondrously and wonderfully transcended everything.
In 2011, Floyd Mayweather took the date and that night he knocked out Victor Ortiz in four rounds.
By 2012 there was a phenomenon never seen before. A burning and intense rivalry that existed between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio César Chávez Jr. was tremendous. Televisa against Azteca, Golden Boy Promotions vs. Top Rank. Saúl embodied and encapsulated in a WBC super welterweight world champion and Chávez was a WBC middleweight champion.
The rivalry was such that on the same night they celebrated defenses of their titles: Canelo crowded the MGM Grand and defended his Green and Gold Belt against Josesito López, and Chávez fought against Sergio “Maravilla” Martínez in a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center, where he lost his title.
In September 2013, the fight between the WBC welterweight champion, Floyd Mayweather, and the WBC super welterweight champion, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, took place. Experience and guile against youth; boxing and technical ability against claw and raw power. Floyd defeated Canelo by decision.
During the next two years the Mexican independence dates belonged to Floyd, beating Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto.
As of 2016, the date has belonged to the now world boxing idol Canelo, who overwhelmed Liam Smith at the Dallas Cowboys stadium, and in 2017 the first fight against Gennady Golovkin took place, which was very even. In 2018 the tiebreaker match took place and it was the night where the Mexican finally conquered the glory and recognition of the whole world, by defeating GGG by decision. What a fight!
This is how this national date has filled arenas and has brimmingly brought together millions of Mexicans through the small screen, giving great reasons for celebration over the years.
DID YOU KNOW…?
Two of the greatest boxers in history also fought on this special date.
Muhammad Ali avenged his loss to Leon Spinks and regained his world heavyweight championship in 1978, and one of the greatest fights in history happened when WBC welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard defeated the WBA champion, Detroit´s Cobra, “Hitman” Tommy Hearns.
When Chávez vs. Camacho took place, the whole of Mexico was in a frenzy of anticipation because everyone wanted to be there; the tickets flew as well as fluttered and the pressure was enormous for my dad, as everyone was looking for him to try to get them tickets.
One afternoon we were at home and the phone rang: “José, the call is for you,” my mother said, and after a pleasant conversation he hung up and told us: “Wow, I don’t know what to do about the so many ticket requests. This young man who just called was very nice to me. He even invited me to his show the night before the fight; It seems to me that he is popular, his name is … Luis Miguel.”
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