By Mauricio Sulaiman
WBC President – Jose Sulaiman’s son
May 3, 2017 – It’s fight week and the anticipation for the Chavez Jr. vs Canelo fight is comparable to those great fights which have taken place during this traditional 5 de Mayo weekend celebration. Cinco de Mayo is a national patriotic date and it has been celebrated with boxing for many years. Iconic fighters have fought, such as Lennox Lewis, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Azumah Nelson, etc.
The Mexican representatives have been of the highest caliber starting with Vicente Saldivar and Salvador Sanchez. Then the greatest fighter in the history of Mexico, Julio Cesar Chavez, owned the date, and later came Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez.
The fighter who has appeared at most 5 de Mayo fights is … Floyd Mayweather! Floyd beat De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero, Marcos Maidana, and Manny Pacquiao.
Some great fights have taken place: Mayweather vs. De La Hoya, De la Hoya vs. Mayorga, and even the classic Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo!
As I am flying to Sin City, I can’t help but to remember the so many great times and memories I have from many trips to Las Vegas. My first Vegas fight was when Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion of the world. While I was studying in high school at Winchendon School in Massachusetts, my father flew me down to LV. He was waiting for me and hired a Limousine to drive to the Hilton hotel. I felt as if I was dreaming; it was one of the greatest moments in my life.
Tyson won and Don King threw a celebration party which was unbelievable! Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Heather Thomas, and many other celebrities were present. Don King knew how to make things at a grand level.
So, I started to go to fights in Las Vegas: the Tyson era, the Chavez era, the multiple championship cards promoted by Don King, then came Oscar De la Hoya with Top Rank and so on.
At that time, it was only Las Vegas Hilton and Caesars Palace and some other traditional hotels and casinos. I could very well describe almost every single moment in which I was amazed in this journey of getting to visit Las Vegas constantly. The lights, the shows, the Mirage, the building of new hotels, shopping, dining, and some other entertainment which we all have enjoyed one time or another and makes us smile when we watch the movie “Hangover.”
My father’s favorite restaurants were “Chin’s” at Fashion Show Mall, Kokomos at the Mirage, The Tillerman (off the strip) and the SteakHouse at Hilton. So many dear friends greeted my dad for so many years: Dr. Elias Ghanem, Dr. Jim Nave, Marc Ratner, Richard Sturm, Tony Alamo Sr., ring officials like Duane Ford, Richard Steele, Jerry Roth, Dave Moretti, Jay Nady, and so many others that I should mention, but the list would be too long.
I remember when there were no cellular phones! So, all day and all night everywhere you could hear the paging system announcing names to proceed to the hotel phones. There was only one street, The Strip, so traffic could get so bad that it was common to walk long distances.
As time went by and my trips to Las Vegas increased, the unfortunate had to happen: I lost the ability to be amazed. I took everything for granted and then it all just became three to four day trips to spend inside the hotel where the fight took place without even seeing the outside, but only to drive back to the airport and go home.
Well, this time is going to be different! I am so excited to be going to the fight as a fan. Chavez Jr. vs. Canelo has no championship at stake. I’m flying early to go and see the shows I have missed, to get to discover restaurants, go shopping for Legos for my son and Adidas tennis shoes for my girl.
May the best man win to become a hero for Mexico and the world, and to take home the unique Huichol 5 de Mayo Belt which has captured the attention worldwide for its beauty and cultural representation. Two Mexican warriors will be fighting on a Mexican holiday in Las Vegas, while building bridges for peace with pride and honor.