Orlando Cruz, the professional boxer who shocked the sports world by coming out as a "proud gay man" earlier this month will be back in the ring tonight in his first fight since the annoucement.
He'll be up against Jorge Pazos at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Florida.
Cruz spoke with USA Today about tonight's fight and the attention that his coming out has garnered. More after the jump!
On boxing, he tells USA Today, "It is a macho sport — there's a lot of machismo. I was afraid I could be discriminated against because there is a lot of discrimination against the gay community. This fight is important for me because I am now liberated. I made history (but) I want to be respected.''
Still, he didn't come out for attention. Cruz insists, "I'm not doing this for ratings. This is a process I had to go through to feel comfortable and happy with myself. .... I'm doing (these interviews) now so I can get it over with and focus on my boxing career. I want to make up for lost time.''
Cruz apparently won't have to worry about homophobia from the other side of the right. His opponent, Jorge Pazos says he doesn't care about his challenger's sexual preference: "I have to win whether he is gay or not. He made a decision and I respect him for that. That's outside the ring; it's different inside the ring.''
It looks like neither man will be pulling any punches.
As for the most important question on our minds, is Orlando Cruz taken? Cruz seems pretty singularly focused. When asked he responded, "Single — no boyfriend. I don't want one. I want a world championship. It's my dream, the most important thing in my life.''
Cruz is expected to to get a title shot and says, "The title belt is my new boyfriend."
And what of his legacy as an out gay boxer? Cruz keeps it simple.
"When I finish boxing I want people to remember me: 'Orlando Cruz was gay — and he was a good boxer and a good guy.'"
We think he'll make that happen--and tonight, our money's on Cruz!