By Jake Donovan, photos by Reynaldo Sanchez
Orlando Cruz and Aalan Martinez are set for their Telemundo-televised main event Friday evening at the Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida.
Their 12-round regional featherweight title fight tops a show loaded with eight total bouts. All 16 fighters on the card successfully made weight during Thursday’s pre-fight weigh-in, saving any potential drama for between the ropes on fight night.
Cruz (19-2-1, 9KO) weighed 126.5 lb – within the +/- 1 lb. limit allowed for the contest – for what serves as his fourth straight appearance on Telemundo, all of which have been staged in central Florida. Martinez (14-1-1, 9KO) came in at the 126 lb. divisional limit.
At stake for Cruz is a future mandatory title shot against recently crowned Miguel Angel ‘Mikey’ Garcia. While most other fighters would choose to play it safe, Cruz wants to ensure that he’s combat ready once he steps up to the big stage.
Martinez and Garcia both vastly different styles (not to mention that Martinez is a southpaw), but it’s his skill level and general toughness that motivated the featherweight contender to seek him out for this particular challenge.
“I have a lot of respect for Mexican fighters,” says Cruz, who has won three straight since suffering back-to-back knockouts. “But if I don’t beat Aalan, then I won’t be a world champion. That is what we are here for.”
Cruz’ last ring appearance – a 10-round decision over Jorge Pazos last October – followed a month’s worth of publicity, largely due to his voluntarily outing himself. The announcement regarding his homosexual lifestyle – which was revealed in an interview with Telemundo’s Jessi Losada – made him the first known active gay boxer.
The revelation was more for peace of mind than anything else. Cruz never intended to play the role of an activist, but rather gain recognition for “the human being that I am, my skills as a boxer, my character and good behavior.”
Martinez hasn’t fought since last June, though enters the contest riding a four-fight win streak.
In the co-feature, Alexei Collado – who recently signed with Acquinity Sports – faces Juan Jose Beltran in a scheduled six-round super feathterweight bout. Collado (15-0, 14KO) weighed 129 lb, while Beltran (28-20-2, 12KO) – a late addition to the show – was permitted to proceed with the fight despite weighing 136 lb, which classifies him as a lightweight.
Both bouts will air live on Telemundo. The show marks the fourth consecutive week of live boxing on the network as part of its new format of three separate four-week seasons within a calendar year.
FULL WEIGHTS AND PHOTOS
Orlando Cruz (126) vs Aalan Martinez (126)
Alexei Collado (129) Vs Juan Jose Beltran (136.8)
Leonardo Sanchez (124.8) vs Carlos Lacayo (126.4)
Jordan Weisfeld 146.2) vs Rikardo Smith (145.6)
Philip Penson (173.4) vs Adrian Redmon (169.8)
Angel Albelo (128.4) vs Adrian Perez (129.4)
Craig Duncan (166.2) vs John Cocheroft (163)
Luis Olivares (140.6) vs Victor Vega (141.2)