Flanagan ends Cruz title dream


CARDIFF, UK: Orlando Cruz failed on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in his bid to become boxing’s first openly gay world champion when Terry Fla­nagan defeated him to defend the World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight title in Cardiff.

The 35-year-old Puerto Rican Cruz had fought nine professional bouts since publicly revealing his sexuality in 2012 and hopes his example may encourage anyone else wishing to come out.

Saturday’s bout was Cruz’s first as a lightweight after he previously lost a world featherweight title fight against Orlando Salido in Las Vegas in October 2013.

Britain’s Flanagan triumphed in Cardiff as he made a fourth successful defense of the crown he first wore in July last year, stopping his rival in the eighth round after controlling the show from the first bell.

Cruz did all he could in dancing around, his agility making the more stolid Flanagan work for his 32nd win as the latter maintained his unbeaten ring record.

For Cruz, his loss was his fifth in 31 bouts.

The bout was a slow burner before Flanagan found his range after three rounds as Cruz began to flag, taking more and more punches.

A right-hander dropped him to the canvas in the eighth and referee Steve Gray stopped the contest.

“I want to inspire the gay community by becoming a world champion on Saturday,” Cruz had said Friday. “Everyone has been very supportive since I came out. I have the support of my family, friends and fans.

“When I look at my story, it makes me hopeful that more people will be inspired to come out.”

Briton Flanagan said beforehand he respected Cruz’s position as his own sister, Chelsea, was openly gay.



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