Saturday 23 September 2017

Orlando Cruz set for second chance at becoming the first ever openly-gay world boxing champion

Orlando Cruz
Orlando Cruz

Declan Warrington

Orlando Cruz is set to be given a second chance at becoming the first openly-gay world champion by fighting Terry Flanagan on November 26.

WBO lightweight champion Flanagan is scheduled to make the fourth defence of his title on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders' first WBO middleweight defence, against Artur Akavov at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena.

Press Association Sport understands Cruz will be his latest opponent, and also his highest-profile, little over four years after the Puerto Rican became the first active fighter to come out.

Manchester's Flanagan, 27, won the vacant title in July 2015 against Jose Zepeda and has since remained busy without securing the fight he has sought with Anthony Crolla.

Cruz is to be his third challenger this year, and the first truly established in the US where in 2013 he fought and lost to Orlando Solido for the vacant WBO featherweight title in his first world-title fight.

The development comes at a time when there has again been attention on the subject of homosexuality and homophobia within sport.

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke recently said he "wouldn't recommend" a player coming out at the moment because of the "risk" they would be abused. Britain's first openly-gay rugby league player Keegan Hirst on Wednesday responded to that by describing his views as "negative and old-fashioned".

Cruz, 35, will be involved in a high-profile fight in the same year then-world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and one of boxing's highest-profile fighters Manny Pacquiao have made homophobic remarks.

The November 26 fight will also represent a continuation of Flanagan's desire to remain at lightweight. His frustration at not fighting local rival Crolla in a unification fight led to him discussing stepping up to light-welterweight, but against Cruz he can again demonstrate his potential at 135lbs.

Also at the Motorpoint Arena, Wales' Liam Williams will defend his WBO super-welterweight title against Ahmet Patterson.

Press Association

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