The first openly gay professional boxer Orlando Cruz has won his first fight since publicly declaring his sexuality.
Retaining his light featherweight title in a unanimous decision after beating the Mexican Jorge Pazos, Cruz said he wants to be seen as a ‘man in every sense of the word.’
The scores were 118-110, 116-111, 118-110 for Cruz in three straight sets, who celebrated his victory in Orlando, Florida.
On Friday night (19 October), the Puerto Rican said: ‘That was my moment, my opportunity, my event. And I won.’
Cruz said he wanted to thank the cheering crowds, the latest in support in the last two weeks when the boxer became the first athlete to come out and continue competing in the sport.
'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 said.
Cruz added: 'With all that’s been going through my life the past two weeks, I have no excuses. It did affect me, going here, going there. It did affect me.
'This fight’s going to open my door for a world title fight. That’s my dream, my mom’s dream, my community’s dream and my team's.’
The 31-year-old boxer said he is more at ease with his new position as a gay role model.
‘I’m only one person,’ Cruz said. ‘I feel happy with where I am. I’m free. I’m more at peace.’