On Saturday 12th October the world tunes in for a mouth watering clash between Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley, however, an interesting fight has been scheduled for the undercard between Puerto Rico’s Orlando Cruz and Mexico’s Orlando Salido. The territorial battle between both countries has provided us with many memorable fights and fans will be hoping for the same when the two meet for the vacant WBO featherweight title on Saturday.
Cruz (20-2-1, 10 knockouts) hit mainstream news in October 2012 when he courageously confessed to his homosexual preferences, making him one of a few to openly admit his unorthodox sexuality in the macho sport of boxing. Viewed as someone that could be the gateway to breaking homophobic barriers down, Cruz has enjoyed fine form recently after winning his last four fights, three of them by way of knockout. The former Puerto Rican Olympian has prepared for the fight by training up to three times a day and admits he has dreamt about becoming boxing’s first openly gay champion, something you can only commend in the highly judgmental nature of contemporary society.
However, to do that, he must overcome the odds and beat Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs). Salido was the belt holder until he lost to Mikey Garcia in January yet in a bizarre set of circumstances, Garcia failed to make weight in his previous fight so the belt became vacant. As such, Salido was ordered to fight Cruz. The former comes in as the favourite and is certainly the more experienced fighter having stepped in the ring with the likes of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez, although it appears the years of fighting took its toll on the Mexican as there were suggestions he was contemplating retirement after his loss to Garcia in January; “I had to take a look at my career to see if this was still what I wanted to do” he says, coming through the apparent hardship to find himself with another world title shot.
Some suggest that Cruz has been catapulted into the spotlight due to his marketability following his admission last year, but he will of course be judged on his boxing ability rather than his sexual preferences. There is no denying that an openly gay world champion is a step forward in modernising the archaic attitude towards homosexuality in sport, but there is also no denying that this will be a hard fight for Cruz against a tough, aggressive fighter like Salido. The important part is whether Cruz has what it takes technically to be able to withstand Salido’s offense; an offense that is both robust and powerful having knocked five out of his last six opponents out. Be sure to tune in for what will be an interesting fight, and in the event that an upset occurs, a result that may change the face of boxing forever.
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