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A Kiss Is Just A Kiss?

(Originally Published: March, 2019 @ Boxing.com)


Imagine Orlando Cruz, boxing’s first openly gay male fighter, rising from the ashes of a thought-to-be-over career to capture the WBO featherweight title from Oscar Valdez in a thrilling Upset of the Year war on ESPN.


Still hyper-charged with adrenaline from the battle and the victory, Cruz, sporting his trademark Puerto Rican/Rainbow flag trunks parties backstage in the dressing room where ESPN has arranged for a post-fight interview with writer/broadcaster Michael “Woodsy” Woods.


“That was a great win, Orlando,” Woods exudes. “What a shocker!”


“Thanks…I always had faith in myself and I knew I had this in me. Thanks to Oscar for giving me this shot…WE DID IT, PUERTO RICO!!!”


“Awesome…good work…”


Somebody is invading somebody’s personal space. We’re not sure who’s violator or who’s violatee. Or maybe it’s just the weird overhead, selfie-style camera angle forcing them close together. Whatever the case, the two men are pretty much chest to chest, Woods’ striped tie clinging to Cruz’s sweaty, heaving chest.


“Orlando, you looked really good in there. Really good…”


“Yeah…I been staying active and sharp. I saw some things on tape with Oscar that I knew I could take advantage of. He’s a great champion, but this one was destiny.”


Fighter and interviewer get even closer.


“So, what’s next?” Woods asks, with just the tiniest bit of discomfort on his face. “The obvious choices are WBC champ Gary Russell Jr. and WBA champ Leo Santa Cruz. Would you like to face them next?”


“Uh…yeah, I’ll fight whoever…yeah..”


Then Cruz reaches out and lays a big kiss on Woods’ lips– too long to be just friendly, but not quite long enough to be full-on aggression.


“Alright…” Woods exclaims with a smile of pure shock on his face as Cruz struts out of camera sight. “Thank You!”


Did Orlando Cruz, in this entirely made-up scenario, sexually assault “Woodsy?” A case could be made for both yes and no.


What was a bit of playful, lunkhead machismo from Cruz could be seen as real disrespect for Woods as someone there to do his job and not fend off advances from a much stronger, much more fit professional prizefighter. At best, it was a poor choice from Cruz and a bit of a peek into a not-so-pretty or not-so-enlightened mind.


Whatever the case, though, “Woodsy” was not “asking for it” by looking so damn dapper and by saying all those pretty things or by standing so close to someone raging with “natural testosterone.”


We also have to be careful not to make “Woodsy” a victim in this pretend scenario. He had something done to him, but he shouldn’t forever be that guy who got grabbed and kissed. He shouldn’t have a bodyguard detail accompany him to every encounter with a beefy athlete or be forced to dress down for fear of stirring primal urges again.


In case you haven’t caught on already, this whole piece is actually about Kubrat Pulev’s forced kissing incident with Vegas Sports Daily reporter Jenny Sushe this past Saturday.


At the end of the day and in the grand scope of things, the Pulev-Sushe incident is somewhat of a nothing story. It’s something that WOULD be a story everywhere else and something that would have any prominent head rolling in any other sport. But don’t count on anything happening or even really being addressed when it comes to this kiss in the sport we love.


Boxing has become the gleeful last refuge of the politically incorrect– a place where racism, sexism, corruption, and even flat-out thievery produce a vicarious thrill in many. Boxing is a place where well-manicured, well-fed, middle-aged men “slum” in a dark and seedy alley. It’s a place where a murderous con man hustler can be a beloved “character,” unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame.


In this environment, women will forever have to keep defending themselves from the drooling cavemen in the industry…as well as the politically correct buffoons jumping in their way, trying to “save” them.

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