Puerto Rico’s Orlando Cruz has vowed to make history by becoming the first openly gay boxing World Champion. Cruz challenges WBO World Lightweight Champion Terry Flanagan at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff on Saturday 26 November, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
The 5ft 4in southpaw became the first openly gay active boxer when he came out four years and says he is ready for another shot at making history after losing to Orlando Salido in a clash for the Vacant WBO World Featherweight Championship back in 2013.
“At 35 years-old I feel great; I’m fitter and more determined than I have ever been,” said Cruz. “Terry Flanagan is a true World Champion and will defend his title with everything he has but I am prepared and ready for victory and to be crowned the new World Champion. I’m ready to become the first openly gay World Champion is boxing history.”
Nicknamed ‘El Fenomeno’, Cruz holds a top record of 25 wins with only four losses and one draw and is currently ranked at number two in the World at Super-Featherweight. A former Olympian, Cruz enjoyed a red-hot nine year unbeaten streak after making his professional debut in 2000 and is confident he can step up to Lightweight and cause an upset on British soil.
“I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and always will be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man. Winning a World title wouldn’t just be huge for me personally; it would mean a lot to people all around the world.”
Cruz has been an ongoing advocate of the LGBT community and was widely commended after dedicating his knockout win over Alejandro Valdez in July this year to the victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. At the weigh-in, he proudly wore rainbow-coloured briefs and stood in silence as a bell tolled 49 times – once for each life lost.
Speaking after the fight Cruz said: “It was a great opportunity to get the win and represent my people. I’m proud to give them an equal opportunity to compete. It meant a lot to get this win tonight, because it provides the opportunity for a World title.”
Flanagan and Cruz join a sensational five-title fight card that features undefeated Hatfield star Billy Joe Saunders making the maiden defence of his World title against Brooklyn-based Russian Artur Akavov; Welsh hero Liam Williams defending his British Super-Welterweight title against undefeated Londoner Ahmet Patterson; Baggies bomber Tommy Langford clashing with Sheffield’s Sam Sheedy for the Vacant British Middleweight strap and Liverpool’s Tom Stalker making the first defence of his WBO European Lightweight title against arch rival Craig Evans.
An action-packed undercard features some of the very best up-and-coming Welsh talent; undefeated Maerdy Middleweight menace Alex Hughes fights over eight rounds; Swansea Super-Flyweight starlet Jay Harris looks to impress on home soil again over six rounds and highly-rated Barry Lightweight Jason Sillett aims to go 6-0; Ricky Hatton Heavyweight prodigy Nathan Gorman goes in search of another explosive KO win and Market Harborough Super-Welterweight Reuben Arrowsmith looks for his eighth professional win.
Remaining tickets for ‘A Little Less Conversation’ priced at £40, £70, £100 and £150 are available from Motorpoint Arena Cardiff; 029 2022 4488 and www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk, Eventim; 0844 249 1000 and www.eventim.co.uk, Ticketmaster; 0844 8440 444 and www.ticketmaster.co.uk
BoxNation, the Channel of Champions, will televise this show on Sky (SD Ch.437 and HD Ch.490), Freeview (Ch.255), Virgin (Ch.546), TalkTalk (Ch.415), online at watch.boxnation.com and via apps (iOS, Android, Amazon).
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