Orlando Cruz, boxing’s first openly gay fighter, was profiled Thursday evening on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. The segment was then aired again on both Good Morning America, and in an expanded version, on Nightline.
It’s rare that any fighter gets this kind of publicity. So for Cruz, it’s a huge deal, and this kind of media attention is what really earned him this title opportunity, and this chance to be the co-featured attraction on a major HBO pay-per-view telecast.
Some in the boxing community think Cruz has been using his sexual orientation as nothing but a marketing ploy. But to that I say, good for him. He took a big stand by coming out as openly gay, and he deserves some recognition and positivity from that.
Besides, in a fight game filled with fighters who do nothing but market themselves in one way or another – think about Adrien Broner, let’s say – why can’t Cruz capitalize and earn himself a shot in the ring? Smart marketing and what seems to be like a smart life choice for him, as it has provided him with much more comfort and ease.
Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs), of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the No. 1 featherweight contender and boxing’s first openly gay fighter, gets his first world title shot, battling former two-time world champion Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs), of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, México.
A member of Puerto Rico’s 2000 Olympic team, Cruz has won half of his professional victories by way of knockout, including three of his last four fights — all for the WBO Latino featherweight belt — propelling him to the top of the WBO ratings. He enters this title tilt riding a two-year winning streak, highlighted by a first-round knockout of previously undefeated Michael Franco.