I never thought it would be possible to see a sold-out arena full of, mostly, Mexicans singing “La Chona” at the top of their lungs, flinging and spilling beer all over the floor while trying to dance with the person nearest to them one moment fall absolutely silent an hour later. Of course, I hadn’t thought I’d experience Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez losing his first fight since 2013. The enthusiastic “Vamos Canelo”’s from the first few rounds turned to desperate pleas by the 11th. While some around me had lost all faith by then, others still hoped for a knockout. It wouldn’t be the first time El Canelo won by a knockout, a sports reporter sitting next to me assured me. But this didn’t happen.
To the dismay of everyone but the three Russian men two rows in front of me, Dmitry Bivol won the fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 7.
Held over Cinco de Mayo weekend, fans flocked to Vegas for the Hennessy Fight Night and all the events leading up to it. To everyone I talked to, a Canelo loss was unfathomable. And it would’ve been quite the story — Canelo, the Mexican, against all odds defeating the foreign enemy, Bivol. Just like Mexicans defended Puebla and defeated the French army in 1862. However, the narrative ultimately held up. Bivol wasn’t the actual intruder in this situation; he was defending his title as the light heavyweight champion. It wasn’t Cinco de Mayo. It was 5 мая.
While the outcome might not have been what many Canelo fans wanted, the fight was the perfect opportunity to see all the tenets that make so many flock to the boxer at play. Much has been written and said about the Guadalajara native’s discipline, legacy, and emphasis on family. All of that was present and visible that weekend. Here are five things Remezcla saw — and overheard — at the Canelo vs. Bivol Hennessy Fight Night weekend.
The “Never Stop, Never Settle” Mantra Holds Up
Though “Never Stop, Never Settle” is Hennessy’s slogan, which is adopted by its brand ambassadors, the Canelo vs. Bivol fight was the manifestation of it. Yes, Canelo lost, but that’s sports, baby. As he said in the post-fight interview, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But he didn’t settle. After winning all the championships available in the light-middleweight class, instead of plateauing, he went for the next challenge: moving up a weight class and taking on the undefeated champion. It’s only the second defeat in Canelo’s career, and he has already asked for a rematch. As the Hennessy x Canelo partnership messaging reads, the Mexican boxer is “in constant pursuit of excellence.”
Being a partner of Hennessy since 2017, Jasmin Allen, SVP at Hennessy, tells Remezcla there’s a philosophical alignment between Canelo and the brand. “We saw attributes in him that we felt were synonymous with our own attributes as a brand,” she said about partnering up with the Mexican boxer. “Both Canelo and Hennessy believe in the power of community. Believe in the power of family. Believe in the power of mastering one’s craft. Believe in the power of pushing the limits of potential, to go as far as you can. Every time Canelo steps into the ring, he demonstrates that.”
Las Vegas Really Wants to Make Cinco de Mayo Happen
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Spending Mexico’s Independence Day (Sep. 15) in Las Vegas is a tradition for many Mexicans, and the city, of course, knows this. For decades, Mexicans have flocked to Vegas to “dar el grito” and attend concerts by some of the biggest names in Mexican music. That weekend is also big for boxing — so imagine if you could replicate it twice a year. From Bivol wishing a “Happy Cinco de Mayo” to a mostly Mexican crowd booing him at the Fight Fest event to the mariachis present at every Canelo appearance to soundtrack his entrances, a big emphasis was put on the holiday. Meanwhile, somewhere else on the strip, the festival RITMO featuring artists like Myke Towers and Farruko was being held. Will Cinco de Mayo weekend in Vegas be the new holiday destination for Mexicans? Time will tell, but the marketing wheels are spinning.
Canelo Wears Matching Outfits With His Family
At the weigh-in event before the fight, Canelo showed up with his daughters and wife decked out in matching fuchsia, zebra-print Dolce and Gabbana tracksuits — which was beyond adorable. And not only that, but a Mexican world champion boxer wearing pink throughout (see his pink and gold D&G fight shorts and zarape) one of the most important fights of his life? He said fuck machismo, and we love that. Also, special shout out to the lavender sequin and tulle dresses Canelo’s wife and daughter were wearing on fight night — another adorable moment and quite the serve. His daughter Maria Fernanda cutely cheered for his dad from the front row.
Canelo's Pre-Fight Grub
Ok, this one’s 100 percent hearsay — that’s why the title also points to things we overheard, so take it with one or 10 grains of salt. Over dinner the night before the fight with Hennessy, a man claiming he was associated with team Canelo said the boxer would be eating sushi and meat-less teppanyaki in his hotel room before the big fight. You can say you heard it from Remezcla’s resident chismosa.
Boxing Is Amping Up the Entertainment Factor
Boxing matches are big entertainment events — that’s news to no one. As fights have started to incorporate the entertainment world, singers and celebrities walking hand in hand with boxers, for example, they’ve begun to turn up the spectacle aspect. In the social media age, where every moment can be worth documenting, it’s no surprise Canelo is raising the bar on the showmanship of it all. The contrast was blinding between both boxers’ entrances, with Bivol opting for a normal strut up to the ring. Canelo, on the other hand, went big. As aforementioned, a full mariachi band played “The Final Countdown” and “Mexico Lindo Y Querido” as he emerged to fireworks and pyrotechnics from a platform, decked in his Dolce & Gabbana ensemble. No musician was hanging by the edges of his cohort this time, for he, himself, was the rockstar that night.