Saturday, May 18, 2024  |


Lem’s latest: Cruz heard ‘gay slurs’ during fights

Fighters Network


LAS VEGAS — Puerto Rican featherweight contender Orlando Cruz, who could become the first openly gay boxer to win a major world title if victorious over Mexican veteran Orlando Salido in Saturday’s bout for the WBO’s vacant belt at Thomas & Mack Center, was featured on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer on Thursday.

Click here for a video of the interview.

A 32-year-old who represented his country in the 2000 Olympics, Cruz declared himself to be “a proud gay man” last October and later announced his engagement to his partner, Jose Manuel.

“This is my moment. This is my time,” said Cruz (20-2-1, 10 knockout), during the interview on ABC. “I’m in a sport that is very macho. Sometime in the ring, people would should gay slurs at me before I came out. After the fights, I would cry with my mom.”

Cruz will wear a rainbow-colored uniform in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) community’s social movement, as well as pink gloves in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month when he enters the ring against Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) for their HBO Pay Per View-televised matchup.

Cruz also stated that he is honoring the late Emile Griffith, a former welterweight and middleweight champion who died in July and whose own sexuality had come to represent a major part of his legacy.

“I am free,” said Cruz, on ABC.

Salido-Cruz takes place on the undercard of a main event between WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) and four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs).


Marquez will pocket a guaranteed $4 million compared to $4.1 million for Bradley Another $2 million of Marquez’s purse will come from sources such as Mexican television rights. A former two-time titleholder, Salido will earn $100,000 compared to $65,000 for Cruz, according to figures provided by Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Atletic Commission.

Also, Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, a winner of his second Olympic gold medal at the 2012 Games in London, will earn $100,000 compared to $25,000 for hard-hitting Mexican rival Jose Luis Ramirez. In a light heavyweight bout, “Irish” Seanie Monaghan will earn $60,000 compared to $20, 000 for opponent Anthony Caputo Smith.



A 30-year-old from Palm Springs, Calif., Bradley had to rise from a 12th-round knockdown in March to secure a unanimous decision over Ruslan Provodnikov in defense of the belt he won from Manny Pacquiao by split-decision in June. Marquez was last in the ring for a sixth-round stoppage of Pacquiao, against whom he had gone, 0-2-1, in previous meetings.

On Saturday night, Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz, said that his man will have all the answers against Marquez, who turned 40 in August.

Although Bradley absorbed plenty of punishment against Provodnikov, who was making his 147-pound debut after having mostly fought at 140, Diaz dismissed the notion that he will be more susceptible to being stopped by Marquez.

“Juan Manuel Marquez is not a welterweight. He hits hard in his division. But he and Manny Pacquiao are coming up from the lower divisions. Tim has always been a welterweight. He’s always been a solid welterweight… With Provodnikov, you’re talking about a big man. He’s a big guy. There’s a difference in his body structure. That guy is huge for 147, and Marquez is not,” said Diaz.

“I can’t remember Marquez ever fighting 147 and actually making 147. He’s always in the 145s, 144s, somewhere in there. So If we stick to the plan, we can box Marquez all night. We can box him. We can keep him going. But if there is that trademark punch, that straight right, and he hits Tim and he doesn’t hurt Tim, and he sees that he doesn’t have the power to hurt Tim, then things are going to change. I’ll tell you that.”

In addition, Diaz said he would have little trouble allowing Bradley to fight toe-to-toe with the aging Marquez under the proper circumstances and after having employed the appropriate strategy.

“Once you’re in a fight, and I think the adrenalin starts pumping up, then once Timothy feels the confidence that he’s in control, then, of course, he’s going to stand there and exchange with Marquez. Most of all, we have to work up and down. Tim is going to work his body and he’s going to work his head. He’s gonna apply smart pressure. He’s not going to get reckless. You can apply pressure and try to get in there and bang, but you have to apply smart pressure,” said Diaz.

“You can counter a counter-puncher with speed, and Tim Bradley has speed in his feet and in his hands. You’re going to see, on Saturday night, a Tim Bradley that can apply pressure and, in the later rounds, we’ll see who the stronger man is. Tim Bradley will be the stronger man in the later rounds because that’s when youth starts kicking in. Marquez is 40 years old and he’s had 60 fights. Remember: Wear and tear. Every fight that he’s fought, he’s had a training camp, which means wear and tear. Frustrate him, get him into the later rounds.”

Diaz knows that Bradley is the underdog, and believes that most in the arena on Saturday night feel that Bradley will lose. However, Diaz said Bradley will prove his detractors wrong.

“At this point, I can tell you, 95 percent of the people are looking for Marquez to win, and they think Marquez is going to win,” said Diaz. “But the other five percent, that’s only the team and the family. But after the fight, the other people will come and say, ‘I knew you were going to win.'”



An immensely popular fighter in Long Beach, N.Y., Monaghan (18-0, 11 KOs) expects a huge contingent of fans to be in the arena at Thomas & Mack for his bout with Smith (14-1, 10 KOs).

“We’ve got people from all over coming out. We’ve got about 150 people from Long Beach coming out,”said Monaghan, who is coming off a first-round knockout of Dion Stanley in April that followed a crowd-pleasing win over Roger Cantrell in January.

“I think there’s a big crew of 50 Irish guys coming out from Philadelphia. We’ve got close to a hundred guys from my hometown in Ireland coming out. So you’ll be able to hear them. Any kind of stress that I have, I run that off on the track before the fight. I’m in peak shape right now, and I could go 10 rounds with anybody in the world right now.”


Other bouts on the eight-fight card match welterweights Brad Soloman (20-0, 8 KOs) and Kenny Abril (14-6-1, 7 KOs), as well as 147-pounders Mikael Zewski (20-0, 15 KOs) and Alberto Herrera (9-9-1, 5 KOs), featherweights Jun Doliguez (16-0-1, 12 KOs) and Geovanny Caro (23-13-4, 19 KOs), and light heavyweights Trevor McCrumby (12-0, 10 KOs) and Eric Watkins (10-4-1, 4 KOs).

Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank