By Keith Idec
Orlando Cruz dedicated his next fight to the late Emile Griffith on a conference call Tuesday.
Puerto Ricos Cruz, the first openly gay active boxer, will meet Mexicos Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO featherweight title Oct. 12 in Las Vegas. He came out of the closet last October and has been applauded for his courage to do so while still boxing.
Griffith, who acknowledged after his boxing career that he was bisexual, died July 22 at the age of 75.
I want to dedicate this fight to Emile Griffith, Cruz said through a translator. My condolences to his family and his friends and his fans. This fight will be for the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community and all of the people who believe in Orlando Cruz.
Griffith went 85-24-2 (23 KOs, 1 NC) and won welterweight and middleweight world titles during a 19-year pro career that began in June 1958 and ended in July 1977. A native of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the longtime New York resident was part of the International Boxing Hall of Fames inaugural induction class in 1990.
Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs) and Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) will square off on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Timothy Bradley undercard at UNLVs Thomas & Mack Center (HBO Pay-Per-View).
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.Tags: Orlando Salido , Orlando Cruz , Salido-Cruz , Salido vs Cruz