History was denied last night in Cardiff, as Puerto Rico’s Orlando Cruz’ attempts at becoming the first openly gay pro boxer to win a world title were thwarted by defending WBO lightweight ruler Terry Flanagan. Flanagan, one of the best yet seemingly underrated fighters in the sport today, crushed Cruz in the 8th-round, scoring two knockdowns that prompted the referee to call a halt.
Flanagan, who retained his title for the fourth time, is now 32-0(13). Cruz, who had moved up to lightweight, falls to 25-5-1(13).
An all-southpaw clash, Flanagan was sharper, more powerful and physically stronger all the way, dominating all the action. Cruz, at age 35, may well have seen his one and only chance at becoming a world champion come and go. As for Flanagan, at age 27 he seems to be at his peak and the Manchester man known as “Turbo” would have to be given a great chance against any other 135-pounder in the world today. But can Flanagan beat a 130-pound star in the making who is planning on moving up in weight?
Promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum are talking about the possibility of having Vasyl Lomachenko, the reigning WBO super-featherweight champ, come over to the UK to challenge Flanagan next year. This fight, aside from being a huge occasion for British boxing, would be an absolutely massive opportunity for Flanagan. If he could win the fight, Flanagan would see himself skyrocket to super stardom.
A big, strong lightweight, Flanagan will no doubt fancy his chances against the smaller Lomachenko. Flanagan would enjoy a significant height (5’9” to 5’6”) advantage over the multi-talented Ukrainian. But, as exceptional as Lomachenko is, would the mere physical attributes of this fight be enough for Flanagan to win?
Flanagan, as hard working and as dedicated as he is, certainly deserves this huge chance. Maybe British fight fans will get the chance to see Lomachenko, arguably the best pound-for-pounder in the sport today, live and in the flesh next summer?