Orlando Cruz: “I will become champion for Puerto Rico and for all of my people.”


Over the past couple years Orlando Cruz (20-2 10KOs) has made waves throughout the boxing community, one for being the first openly gay boxer and two he has strung together a four fight win streak with 3 knockouts. Cruz is preparing to fight for his first major title when he takes on Orlando Salido (39-12 27KOs) on October 12th at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Salido is a battle tested veteran and will be Cruz’ biggest test to date. “I am ready for the challenge to face Orlando Salido on October 12 even with all of his experience.  He faced great champions like Juan Manuel Marquez, Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez,” said Cruz. “ I have been following what the coach tells me and on October 12 I will become champion for Puerto Rico and for all of my people.”

Salido fought and lost to Mikey Garcia in January for this very title. After Garcia knocked out ‘JuanMa’ Lopez early this year Garcia vacated the title. Even though Salido lost in his last fight out, Cruz is not taking this lightly. “I have a lot of respect for Orlando Salido.  I am not going in there thinking that it’s an easy fight.  I know how hard he has worked to get to where he is. I know how hard I worked to get where I am.  I think we are both really hungry and we both want to do a really great job.”

Salido has fought a long list of world champions and has held his own, including beating Juan Manuel Lopez, twice by knockout. Cruz understands the issues and pressure that a fighter like Salido brings but he remains confident that he will walk away with the victory. Cruz stated “The way he comes is the way I will fight with Salido.  I am not going to run.  When I need to fight I am going to fight.  When I need to box I am going to box.  I am going to be the smartest guy in the ring.  I am not taking anything away from Salido but on October 12 we are going to make history.”

In the boxing world, one of the biggest rivalries has been between Mexico and Puerto Rico. Once again we revisit the rivalry and Cruz being from Puerto Rico is ready to come away with the win and bring the belt home. “The rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico, this will be another fight that will bring a lot of excitement in the ring between me and Saldio and I am so happy that it happened because it makes it bigger when I beat a Mexican to bring the belt to Puerto Rico once again.”

Orlando Cruz represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Olympics, and if he was to walk away with the WBO title he would be the third champion from that Puerto Rican team

“It is going to be great when I become a champion on October 12.  It is going to be a great honor for me to be part of the three, to be with Cotto and Calderon, when I become champion to be part of history in Puerto Rico.”

Currently the only other Puerto Rican Champion Rocky Martinez is a couple months away from defending his title against Mikey Garcia. With the chance to bring another title back to the island Cruz has the support of his country. “The Puerto Rican community has been supporting me and has respected my decision.  Puerto Rico has one champion in Rocky Martinez and now they are going to have a second champion on October 12.”

Cruz and Salido’s fight will be on the undercard of Bradley vs. Marquez. Also on the undercard is amateur standout Vasyl Lomanchenko. With Lomanchenko’s long list of amateur accolades, rumors have surfaced that should he win his fight against Jose Luis Ramirez, he will fight the winner of this fight and Cruz is staying focused. “The only one I am looking at right now is Mr. Salido.  I am not looking at anyone else. When the time comes to look at my next fight, I will sit down with my promoter and my team to discuss. That will be great but my focus right now is on Salido.”