Gay boxer Orlando Cruz enters ring tonight

Featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz will fight Friday night for the first time since declaring he was gay earlier this month.

Cruz, 31, a former 2000 Olympic boxer from Puerto Rico, will fight Jorge Pazos in the main event of a card in Kissimmee, Fla.

“I think the reaction tonight will be good,” Cruz told his publicist Ed Keenan on Friday morning in comments relayed to The Times. “But maybe not. There may be a lot of” anti-gay people “there, yelling at me. But I don’t care. I have tunnel vision when I walk to the ring. The only thing I hear in the ring is my corner.”

Cruz (18-2-1, nine knockouts) spent part of Friday morning visiting with Puerto Rican boxer Juan Manuel Lopez, his mother and a few friends.

Keenan said after Cruz took a few days off from training to give interviews elaborating on his decision to announce he was “proud” to be a gay man, it caused him to have difficulty making weight.

“After the fight, I plan to go back to Puerto Rico and relax for a couple of weeks with my family,” Cruz told his publicist. “My grandmom is very sick and I want to spend some time with her also. And my mom is my best friend and biggest supporter. Then back to the gym.

“My plan looking ahead -- but don’t forget I have to win this fight -- was originally to fight for the world title,” Cruz said.

The timing of that ambition changed when World Boxing Organization champion Orlando Salido was injured, postponing his scheduled title defense against Oxnard’s Mikey Garcia. 

Now, Salido-Garcia won’t likely occur until early 2013.


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