By Jake Donovan
The proposed vacant title fight between Orlando Salido and Orlando Cruz is heading to Las Vegas, according to sources from both camps.
Final bout agreements have yet to make its way to Top Rank as this goes to print. Once confirmed, the bout will presumably land as the chief supporting bout to the October 12 pay-per-view headlined by a welterweight title fight between unbeaten Tim Bradley and future Hall-of-Fame entrant Juan Manuel Marquez.
"It will be October 12 underneath Bradley-Marquez in Las Vegas," informed Tuto Zabala, who promotes Cruz. "We are signing the contracts today."
Cruz (20-2-1, 10KO) has won four straight but hasn't fought since March, when he stopped Aalan Martinez in six rounds. The Puerto Rican southpaw made headlines last October, announcing his sexual orientation which made him the first openly gay active boxer.
The news preceded a fight later that month on Telemundo, which has hosted each of his last four wins. Cruz had a chance to add to his current streak, but his handlers chose to forego a previously planned stay-busy fight in June, instead immediately entering negotiations with Salido.
"This is a dream come true," Cruz said when first learning of the possbility of facing Salido for the title. "I will become the first active gay boxer to win a world championship."
Eight months between months isn't ideal, though such ring activity (or lack thereof) has become par for the course for Cruz. The spacing between fights explains his having fought only 23 times through 13 years, which physically puts him at a young 32 years of age.
The same cannot be said of Salido, who is only eight months older than his opponent but whom boasts more than twice as many fights.
Salido (39-12-2, 27) hasn't fought since a technical decision loss to Mikey Garcia this past January. The defeat ended his near two-year title reign, though that very belt will be at stake in this contest.
A pro since 15, Salido has fought around the world but has never enjoyed much success in the city regarded by many as the boxing capital of the world. His last official win in Las Vegas came more than a decade ago, going 2-0-1 during a three fight stretch within three months and at a time when he fell back in love with boxing.
Salido has since fought three more times in Vegas, going 0-2-1. All three fights came with a featherweight belt at stake, losing to Marquez in 2004 and in a unification bout with Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2010. Sandwiched in between came a Nov. '06 win over Robert Guerrero that was changed to a no-contest after Salido tested positive for a banned substance.
The battle-tested Mexican veteran was believed by many experts to be in the twilight of his career heading into his April '11 encounter with Juan Manuel Lopez. The oddsmakers were proven wrong, as Salido scored one of the biggest upsets of the year to begin his second tour as a featherweight champ.
That reign ended against Garcia in January, but the possibility for a third reign came about the moment his conqueror forfeited the belt on the scales last month.
Salido and Cruz engaged in negotiations immediately thereafter, working together to help avoid a purse bid scenario.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the official Records Keeper for Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.