LAS VEGAS -- Orlando Cruz will take his message of equality all the way to the ring on Saturday -- although the way he chose to do it was off-putting to some in his Puerto Rico homeland.
Cruz, who enters his first world title fight against Mexico's Orlando Salido for a vacant featherweight belt on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET), caused a stir after his outfit for the fight was revealed on promoter Top Rank's Facebook page.
Last year, Cruz became the sport's first openly gay boxer. For the fight against Salido, Cruz replaced the colors of the Puerto Rico flag (red, white and blue) with those of the rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBT community. He also plans to wear pink gloves to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Hundreds of fans commented on this subject, most of them voicing their disagreement by claiming he was altering the colors of his national flag. However, fans showed little rejection toward Cruz based upon his sexual orientation.
Cruz claims his plan wasn't to create any discomfort among his fans.
"I totally respect the Puerto Rican flag," Cruz said. "There are no bad intentions involved with this. I will always proudly represent my country and my fans. Please, accept my apologies if I made you feel offended. I didn't mean to create any controversies."
The Puerto Rican boxer, who will dedicate the fight to the memory of the late Emile Griffith -- a former two-division champion who late in life admitted that he was bisexual -- said he had no idea about who may have leaked the photo.
"I have no idea about who could have published the photo," Cruz said. "Maybe that person saw that the outfit was quite flashy, and just published it on Facebook. I'm calm, focused on the upcoming fight. I want Puerto Rico to know that I will proudly carry the flag on my chest."