World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman told a New York crowd on hand for a promotional press conference at Hard Rock Cafe on Tuesday that “peace and inclusion” will be the theme of the middleweight fight when Amir Khan, a Muslim from England, fights Canelo Alvarez, a Catholic from Mexico, on Cinco de Mayo Weekend in Las Vegas. It's a contrasting tone to some of the discourse heard from a leading presidential candidate eight months before the general election.
“We have Catholic and Muslim fighters coming together," Sulaiman said. "We will plant an olive tree near the [new T-Mobile] Arena as a symbol of the peace and unity that the world needs.”
Khan will be the challenger for the WBC title against Alvarez, who will be defending the belt for the first time since defeating Miguel Cotto in November. It promises to be one of the biggest fights of 2016, and potentially sets up the year’s biggest showdown when the winner could face Gennady Golovkin in September.
The press conference came on the same day that Donald Trump increased his chances of winning the Republican nomination for president, winning seven states on Super Tuesday. The candidate continues to cause controversy with his statements that many, including Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, consider to be racist.
Trump has not exactly stood for the peace and inclusion that Sulaiman and De La Hoya have been promoting. Over the course of his campaign, Trump has called for measures that would limit the number of Mexicans and Muslims that would be able to enter the country. Most notably, Trump wants to build a wall along the border of the U.S. and Mexico, and deport Mexicans that are in the U.S. illegally.
Following Trump's comments last summer that Mexico is "bringing drugs, crime and rapists" across the border, there was a public outcry. When asked about Trump in a video by ESNEWS, De La Hoya wasn't diplomatic.
"It's terrible what he's saying, and what he stands for," the former boxing champion said in July. "I'm shocked. I am really shocked. Because, in this country, there's 50 going on 60 million Latinos all across the board -- especially him running for president, how can he say something like that? How can he even think something like that? Or how can he even feel something like that? So it really is very disappointing and I am in shock.
"Go out and vote. Go out and vote. Because your vote counts. And, obviously, do not vote for Donald Trump."
In addition to his comments about Mexicans, the candidate has taken aim at Muslims during his campaign, calling for a ban on all members of the Islamic faith from entering the U.S.
De La Hoya struck a more positive tone on Tuesday as he discussed the May 7 fight. Alvarez is the best fighter signed to Golden Boy Promotions, suffering his lone loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Sept. 2013. His fight with Cotto generated 900,000 pay-per-view buys, and he’s turning into boxing’s biggest draw now that Mayweather is retired and Manny Pacquiao is about to call it quits.
"This is a perfect moment for everybody to celebrate a special night on Cinco de Mayo Weekend,” De La Hoya told International Business Times.
"What Sulaiman did with the peace tree and with the pope ... this is all about being positive and celebrating a great weekend on Cinco de Mayo and celebrating a great fight. So whatever else is happening around the world, so be it. But we're going to be celebrating a special occasion on that weekend."
When asked if Trump was invited to the fight, De La Hoya responded: "I will be placing that call very soon."
Sulaiman met with Pope Francis last month, giving him an honorary WBC title belt. Trump and the pope recently engaged in a war of words after the head of the Catholic Church suggested that Trump’s actions suggest that he is “not Christian.”