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Franchon Crews-Dezurn: From American Idol to undisputed champ, meet Savannah Marshall's next opponent

"They're going to hate me at the beginning. But they're going to love me at the end"; fighter, champion, singer and more, there is not another boxer like Franchon Crews-Dezurn; on July 1 on Sky Sports, Savannah Marshall challenges Crews-Dezurn for the undisputed super-middleweight title

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Franchon Crews-Dezurn reveals her talents do not end with boxing, as she shows off her singing skills on Sky Sports News ahead of her fight with Savannah Marshall

For Franchon Crews-Dezurn the sport of boxing, originally, was a means to an entirely different end.

Pursuing a career as a singer, she stepped into a boxing gym just to lose some weight.

Today Crews-Dezurn is the undisputed super-middleweight world champion and next weekend, on July 1, fights Savannah Marshall at the Manchester Arena in the main event live on Sky Sports.

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Undisputed champion Crews-Dezurn sent a strong message to challenger Marshall

"I only started boxing to lose weight for singing. I just wanted to be an R&B pop star like Destiny's Child and Beyonce," she told Sky Sports.

"I just wanted to lose five pounds in one day and now I'm over here in the UK putting on a big fight. So that's my life."

She is a genuinely talented singer. Crews-Dezurn has even appeared on the American Idol television show. While she has a developing rivalry with Marshall, the champion also has a point of contention with Simon Cowell.

"I hope he comes to the fight if he's in the UK. That would be such a full-circle moment. I think when I win I want to meet Simon Cowell or just to hear from him. He told me I couldn't be good at everything. He told me that. It wasn't in a bad way but it was in a Simon way," she said.

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"I told people on national TV if I'm not the American Idol, I'm going to be the middleweight champion of the world. I'm super-duper now. Super-middleweight champion of the world, undisputed and helping push a whole sport forward."

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Crews-Dezurn and Marshall traded verbal blows on The Gloves Are Off ahead of their huge clash in Manchester

"So makes sense," she added. "At least I'm great at boxing!"

Nicknamed the 'Heavy Hitting Diva', Crews-Dezurn has not even ruled out singing the national anthem before her fight with Marshall.

"Depending how I feel getting closer to the fight, I might do it. It's not off the table," she said.

As well as singing, she has debuted her own fashion collection and has launched her own promotional company to represent her.

She can fight too.

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The ill-feeling between Marshall and Crews-Dezurn came to a head at the end of their press conference and was apparent at a tense face-off

"I used to fight in school of course, street fights, so that was nothing. The opportunity came and I took it," said Crews-Dezurn. "I just think it was in me.

"Whatever it is, it's in me. I was just born with it."

Originally from Virginia she moved to Baltimore where she discovered boxing and met her husband. Her husband is still her training partner, under head coach Barry Hunter.

"My goal in life before I retire is for my husband and I to fight on the same card. Because he's electrifying. He's an inspiration for me and definitely the wind beneath my wings," she said.

"When everybody said no and people said it's over, you're not that good, he thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread.

"I think I've developed into a better fighter because I'm a reflection of him. So having him always there and just always focused and always determined, in his career, in my career, it means the world to me."

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Marshall discusses Claressa Shields' 'disgraceful' attitude and Peter Fury's tactical gamble

She was an international amateur boxer, who represented the USA at World Championship standard.

Crews-Dezurn even lost to Marshall in an amateur bout. At the 2011 Olympic Test in London, the last time she boxed in the UK, Marshall beat her on points.

Claressa Shields took over the 75kgs spot on the US team. But moving up to light-heavyweight Crews-Dezurn still won silver and bronze medals at the Amateur World Championships.

It was never her intention to turn professional. But in 2016 Shields needed an opponent for her pro debut.

"Thirteen girls turned Claressa down. I got called on two-and-a-half weeks' notice and I took the fight. But I always knew in my mind I was not an opponent. I knew I was world calibre. I knew I would be the best," she said.

"I always try to excel in everything I do and started out with a loss against a two-time Olympic gold medallist, promoted my next two fights and now promoting with BOXXER. So that's an amazing feat for me."

It is a rare fighter who loses on their professional debut goes on to become a world champion. But then Crews-Dezurn is unique.

"I'm the first-ever undisputed super-middleweight champion in history," she said.

"That's divine order and that's hard work. Just following your journey. Everyone has their own journey.

Franchon Crews-Dezurn is the reigning undisputed super-middleweight champion
Image: Crews-Dezurn is the reigning undisputed super-middleweight champion

"I just go with the flow and let the universe guide me."

It was a taxing path. She beat Maricela Cornejo twice to unify the WBC and WBO titles. Her 2020 bout with Alejandra Jiminez was ruled a no-contest after the Mexican failed a drug test.

Last year Crews-Dezurn became the undisputed 168lb champion, adding the IBF and WBA belts to her collection, when she beat Elin Cederroos at Madison Square Garden.

"She's an elite athlete," the American said. "I had the best version [of her]. She trained really hard. She was a tough lady. I just knew I had to bring my A game. I made it easy. She didn't win any rounds on me, probably one, but I know what I can do.

Image: Crews-Dezurn and Marshall are contrasting characters

"I'm supposed to be here."

She continued: "I get chills thinking about it, it was electric. I want to get that times 10 here in Manchester with the people.

"You don't have to like me but you're going to respect me and if you respect and love the sport you'll see I'm fighting with passion and I'm fighting for something.

"I know they're going to hate me at the beginning.

"But they're going to love me at the end."

Savannah Marshall challenges Franchon Crews-Dezurn for the undisputed super-middleweight title live on Sky Sports on July 1.

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