Call me crazy, but I just can’t see someone with the first name Franchon working a 9 to 5 somewhere. With a name like that, you’ve got to be destined for something special.
Franchon Crews-Dezurn’s parents knew.
“The funny thing is, my mother and my father have the most basic names,” Crews-Dezurn laughs. “My mom's first name is Sarah and my father's first name is Willie. So I always thought about that, ever since I was little. I think my name represents me, and she had that name picked out for me before I was even conceived. She knew something I didn't know, and she stamped me and gave me the name and I'm just glad I could grow into it.”
She has. There was the American Idol tryout, the fashion designs, the personality and, oh yeah, a stellar amateur boxing career followed by a pro career that has seen her win seven of nine bouts (with one no contest) and two world titles at 168 pounds.
Needless to say, there will be no 9 to 5s in the Maryland product’s future. She’s on that star path, with the next stop taking her to a place she’s long dreamed of conquering.
“Years ago, I was super broke, and I went to New York, and I said, ‘One day, I'm gonna have my face on one of the screens in Times Square,” Crews-Dezurn recalls. “Then last year when I was in New York with Bernard Hopkins, we visited Madison Square Garden on the anniversary of when he knocked out Tito (Trinidad), and we stopped at Times Square again, and I'm like, 'Yeah, one day I'm gonna have my name on one of these big screens. I'm gonna do something great in New York. Fast forward to now and I'm about to make history in Madison Square Garden. This is manifestation, and I'm just so happy.”
Yes, the MSG fight most are talking about is the headliner between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, which marks not only the first female main event in “The Mecca,” but the first women’s bout to see a seven-figure payday for both combatants. But Crews-Dezurn will be making her own history with Sweden’s unbeaten Elin Cederoos, who will risk her WBA and IBF belts against the American’s WBO and WBC titles (DAZN 7:30pm ET). Two unification bouts on one card is a big deal for a sport long deserving of respect but that has rarely received it. It’s a major night for women’s boxing, and Crews-Dezurn knows it.
“I definitely see it as the start of something,” she said. “Not only with Katie and Amanda. Claressa (Shields) has really pushed the boundaries with making six figures a fight, and the fact that these women are making seven, it's gonna be the start of something, but you have to pay your dues and you have to put in work and you have to perform. Every woman that's getting six figures and these good paychecks, they're putting in work and working for it.”
Crews-Dezurn has been putting in work and paying her dues more than most. Owner of a reported 56-19 amateur record (boxrec.com) that she began compiling in 2005, Crews-Dezurn has seen it all in the sport – the good, the bad, and the ugly – but she stuck to her guns and kept moving forward.
“You have to understand, when I started boxing, there were no women in the Olympics, women's boxing had died down from the Laila Ali-Ann Wolfe era, and I was an elite amateur, so I knew I had to keep fighting,” she said. “I knew I was fighting because I had to win, I had to survive and take care of myself in real life. And I just knew every time I won, it got better. Either I'm traveling or I'm feeling like I belong. Because I'm an odd person, I'm an odd kid (Laughs), and I just felt like I belonged. And then as things started progressing - first with women being involved in the Olympics, I'm like, ‘Okay, now I have something to really fight for.’”
She wouldn’t get to the Olympics, losing to eventual two-time gold medalist Shields, but she still fought – in and out of the ring.
“Even in the amateur system, I was one of the main reasons women started getting paid,” Crews-Dezurn said. “The women would go win many medals for the United States, and they wouldn't be compensated, but the men were, so I pulled people together and we went and they heard my case, and we started getting a couple dollars. So I'm doing this for legacy. Of course, I want to cash out and get paid; I'm not making nearly as much as the women or the men on this card. But I'm doing it for legacy, and I know that the money will come. But I've always just kept fighting because I knew something is there. I don't know what it is, but it's there.
Eventually, Crews-Dezurn turned pro in 2016, losing to her old rival Shields, and while many wonder where the path is for Taylor and Serrano to make another seven-figure payday without fighting each other again, a win on Saturday clears the way for Crews-Dezurn to perhaps meet Shields again for big money should Flint’s finest defeat Savannah Marshall in their grudge match.
“That's always on the radar that me and her will fight down the road because, yeah, she's doing amazing things, but it's still not enough for people,” said the 34-year-old Crews-Dezurn. “So fighting someone like Savannah and fighting a person like me - because people saw how great our fight was in our pro debuts - I think they would definitely pay us seven figures. So I'm gonna continue to do my part and she's doing her part, and we'll see each other down the road. My life isn't revolved around her, hers isn't revolved around me, even though we're very intertwined. I just think that's always on the table, even if that's the cash-out fight for me. If I don't want to box anymore, I know I can get that fight and walk away with a nice payday, just like she would.”
First, there’s Cederoos. Owner of an 8-0 with four KOs record, she won her IBF belt in 2019 with a win over Femke Hermans and added the WBA crown in 2020 with a close win over Alicia Napoleon. She hasn’t fought since. Meanwhile, Crews-Dezurn bounced back from the Shields loss in her debut to win her next six, a stretch that also saw her pick up her belts by beating Maricela Cornejo in 2019. An upset split decision loss to Alexandra Jimenez followed in early 2020, but when Jimenez’ drug test came up dirty, the verdict was overturned to a no contest and Crews-Dezurn’s belts were returned. Now, after a shutout victory over Ashleigh Curry in January of last year, she wants some more.
“When I win, I just want to go running to Home Depot or Lowe's because I'm a DIY fanatic, so I'm gonna do some carpentry and I might build a wall of shelving,” she laughs. “But I'm making room, believe me. I'm already thinking about it.”
That doesn’t mean she’s dismissing her opponent. Just feeling confident that she’s leaving the Garden with a lot more hardware than she entered with.
“As always, we don't sleep on anyone,” Crews-Dezurn said. “I'm never gonna short-change her. She's a champion in her own right, so I'm coming on my Ps and Qs. But I've been on the world stage and I know that whatever she brings, I'm gonna be able to adapt, and I don't think she can handle what I can bring.”
As for everything else befitting a young lady with the name Franchon, she’s patient.
“When it comes, it comes,” Crews-Dezurn said. “I know this is a great opportunity to fight on this undercard and this is a big moment for Katie and Amanda, and I know that my just due will come. I just really have to stay focused and show and prove. And when I walk in the building, they're gonna know that I'm here.”