Franchón Crews-Dezurn could not vividly recall her reaction after she defeated Elin Cederroos on Saturday night for a trio of world boxing championships at the super middleweight level. So the Baltimore resident watched video of her letting out what she called “a phoenix roar” and shedding a few tears.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said Monday afternoon from New York City. “But I know that it happened because my husband, my team, they were all just crying and happy. So to see the smiles on their faces is great.”
Crews-Dezurn, known as “The Heavy Hitting Diva,” made boxing history by becoming the first female undisputed super middleweight champion of the world. When she outpointed Sweden’s Cederroos by unanimous decision in a 10-round bout at Madison Square Garden, she added the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and Ring Magazine titles to the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization belts she already had.
“I feel elated, and I feel complete, but I’m not content,” she said. “I knew this moment would happen. This is what I worked for, and I told everyone I would do this. Now that it’s done, I just feel so relaxed.”
Glenn Dezurn Jr., who has been married to Franchón since 2012, said his wife’s victory “brought joy to my heart.”
“It’s very meaningful,” said Dezurn, who is a North American Boxing Association super bantam titlist with a 14-3-1 record and one of his wife’s sparring partners. “I think her whole career is made of major substance. She overcame adversity. She has come out on top every time no matter what. Every time she fought, she was fighting for more than just a belt. This fight was just a cherry on top.”
Crews-Dezurn, who attended Douglass High School, is an eight-time national amateur champion who turned professional on Nov. 19, 2016. That debut ended with a loss by unanimous decision to Claressa Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who is the undisputed world light middleweight champion.
Since then, Crews-Dezurn has yet to lose a fight, winning eight of nine bouts (one was ruled a no-contest) with two knockouts. She said she has been driven by the memory of her mother, Sarah Marie Crews, who overcame cancer twice before succumbing to complications from chronic kidney disease in December 2016.
“I knew that whatever I wanted to do, I was built enough to carry it,” she said. “There’s a saying that God will never put anything on you that you can’t bear. So even when companies like Under Armour turned me down and everybody closed the door in my face, the one thing that motivated me to keep going was watching my mother pass in 2016 two weeks after I went pro. So I didn’t have anything but boxing and my husband to fill that void. So I couldn’t turn back after that. I had to keep pushing, and now I’m here, and I made it.”
Crews-Dezurn said her pre-fight strategy involved attacking Cederroos’ left, which would defuse a left hook she used to drop her last opponent and force her to punch with her right across her body. Crews-Dezurn said in the days leading up to the bout, she was at peace with her conditioning and approach.
“Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous, and that kind of got me nervous,” she said with a laugh. “Honestly, I’ve been on a spiritual journey, and I’ve just been trying to tap into myself and be one with myself. I just promised myself that when the opportunity came, I would be present in the moment, and I think that’s what I felt once I started to understand that this was my journey and that I deserved it and that I was worth it and that I was supposed to be here. And I prepared. I did everything I could do to prepare for the fight. The only thing left was to let it rip, and that’s what I did.”
Crews-Dezurn said she felt in control of the fight against Cederroos (8-1) from the opening bell. But she admitted that she took her foot off the pedal near the end.
“I will say there was a point when I kind of lost focus,” she said. “I would say that was the ninth round. I kind of let up a little bit. I have a great corner, and they’re real. So if I’m losing, they’ll say, ‘Well, Franchón, you need to step it up,’ and there was a point when my coach said, ‘Look, we don’t want close rounds. We don’t want to leave it in the judges’ hands.’ But I felt that I was winning every round.” Dezurn said his wife remained committed to her fight strategy.
“She just stayed true to herself, she fought like herself,” he said. “She never fought her opponent’s style. They were looking for one thing, and you can train for Franchón, but she’s got too many styles. She’s slick, she’s intelligent, and she’s got a great pedigree and background.”
Two days after winning all three scorecards by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 97-93, Crews-Dezurn said she is thankful for the chance to make history.
“I’ve done a lot of stuff already,” she said. “But to do this, to join my mentor Bernard Hopkins, to join one of my top rivals-slash-friends Claressa Shields, just knowing that I was the first woman to do this and that there will be women behind me, it’s very special. Each historic moment I’ve had has its own special place, but I’ve got to top this now.”
Crews-Dezurn, who is managed by Matchroom Boxing after spending more than two years with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, said she might consider moving weight classes if the shift makes sense “logically and financially.” Until then, she said will brace for future challenges from boxers wishing to make their own history.
“I finally got to the top of one mountain peak, but there’s a bigger mountain to cross,” she said. “Now that I have all the belts, I know that girls are coming for me and are training for me. So now I have to evolve into a different version of myself to continue to be dominant.”