In his first bout since coming out as gay, pro boxer Orlando Cruz slugged his way to a victory by unanimous decision over Jorge Pazos.
“That was my moment, my opportunity, my event. And I won,” Cruz told the Associated Press last night after his win, with his mother Dominga Torres-Rivera seated beside him.
Cruz told reporters that he was moved by the support on display at the Kissimmee Civic Center outside of Orlando, the latest in a continual outpouring since his announcement two weeks ago that made him the first active male athlete in a major sport to come out.
“I was very happy that they respect me. That’s what I want — them to see me as a boxer, as an athlete and as a man in every sense of the word,” he told AP.
The WBO's fourth-ranked featherweight has received not only support from the public, but from other pro athletes and celerbrities, including former Olympic teammate Miguel Cotto and singer Ricky Martin.
Cruz said he hops this victory will get him a shot at a bigger match in the near future.
“This fight's going to open my door for a world title fight,” Cruz said. “That’s my dream, my mom’s dream, my community’s dream and my team’s.”