Salido stops Cruz in 7th round to win world title
|Featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz (L) of Puerto Rico takes a punch from Orlando Salido of Mexico during their title fight at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada October 12, 2013. Photo by Steve Marcus, Reuters.|
MANILA, Philippines – Orlando Salido claimed the World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight championship after knocking out Orlando Cruz, the world’s first openly gay fighter, in their world title fight Saturday in Las Vegas (Sunday morning in Manila).
It is Salido’s second reign as WBO featherweight champion, having won the belt in April 2011 off Juan Manuel Lopez.
Against Cruz, Salido used his superior strength and punching power to wear down the Puerto Rican boxer, eventually cornering Cruz in the seventh round.
Salido landed a right hand to the head and then a left hand to the body, sending Cruz to the canvas and leading referee Kenny Bayless to put a stop to the contest.
The official result was a seventh round technical knockout at the 1:05 mark.
“Cruz is strong and fast, and I had to fight with intelligence and put a lot of pressure on him,” Salido told ESPN’s Dan Rafael after the bout. [http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/9816940/orlando-salido-spoils-orlando-cruz-story-tko]
“This is the biggest moment of my life. My career has been like a roller coaster. I’ve had my ups and downs, but it’s great to be back on top. It’s a very big win,” he added.
Rafael reported that Cruz, who made headlines last year after coming out, waved a rainbow colored flag during introductions and wore rainbow-patterned trunks.
But the 32-year-old Cruz, fighting in a world championship bout for the first time, did not have the strength to keep up with Salido, who has now won 28 fights by knockout.
“I went into the corner and he hit me with a good shot. I thought the fight was close up until then. It was going back and forth,” said Cruz.
Salido was ahead on all scorecards at the time of the stoppage. He improved his boxing record to 48 wins against 12 losses, with two draws and one no contest.
Meanwhile, Cruz’s record dropped to 20 wins with three losses and one draw.