When Glenn Dezurn Jr. and his wife go to the gym, they love to put on the boxing gloves and smack each other around.
And yes, they enjoy it.
Don’t worry, though. Dezurn is not a wife beater. Far from it, in fact.
The 29-year-old Baltimorean is an undefeated professional boxer who will make his national television debut on ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday night (10 p.m. ET) from the new MGM Grand Hotel and Casino at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
His wife happens to be Franchon Crews, also a professional boxer (1-1) and eight-time national amateur champion, who likely would have competed in the 2012 London Games had a 17-year-old upstart middleweight named Claressa Shields not stood in her way.
Dezurn and Crews, who have been married for nearly five years, are not only best friends, they are training and sparring partners.
So, what’s it like sparring with your spouse?
“She can hold her own,” Dezurn told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s not like sparring with a typical female. She can fight. And she does have experience. She’s been around. And she can punch. It’s like sparring any other guy in the ring.”
It helps that Crews, a middleweight, is bigger than her super featherweight husband, with a three-inch height advantage and as much as a 30-pound weight advantage. But she is doing her best to get her husband’s career off the ground and Friday’s fight, the televised opener, against unbeaten Leroy Davila could be the launching pad Dezurn needs to get his name known out there.
“I’m so focused on helping Glenn get everything he deserves, my stuff is going to come,” said Crews, who lost her pro debut in a well-fought, tough rematch with Shields last fall. “We’re at two different ends of the spectrum. I’ve been at the top . . . I have plenty of titles, but this is a man who has a work ethic the same as someone with a lot of titles, and who is going to use his opportunity Friday to let it be known.”
Dezurn (8-0, 6 KOs) takes on Davila (5-0, 3 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw from New Jersey, in an eight-round bout at 130 pounds. The former three-sport Baltimore City high school star – he played baseball, football and wrestled -- found boxing much like many other fighters did – he got into trouble as a kid and needed something constructive to keep him off the streets and out of harm’s way. His father boxed some and he wanted to be like his dad.
Through his wife, Dezurn eventually hooked up with one of the most respected trainers in the sport, Washington D.C.’s Barry Hunter, who handles the Peterson brothers, Lamont and Anthony, and former world champ Rau’shee Warren, among others.
“As an amateur, I used to see Mr. Hunter all the time. I always wanted to train at (Hunter’s) Headbangers (Boxing Club). He used to always speak to me and give me advice, so it was like I already knew of him, but I wasn’t close enough to get inside his circle. But my wife connected with him and it was a great connect.”
Like fellow Baltimore fighter and now world champion Gervonta Davis, Dezurn navigated through a rough childhood, describing his parents as “crackheads” in his bio. His mother died, he said, as a result of her lifestyle, and Dezurn was raised by his great aunt, Denise Cole.
“My father is still living. I wouldn’t want them to be called crackheads, it’s just like any other family who has someone caught up in drugs,” he said. “I come from a family that’s pretty screwed up, but I never used it as a crutch. No excuses. I found something I wanted to do and I did it. And I was blessed to have a wife to support me.”
Dezurn gives all the credit to the women in his life. “(Cole) played the mother role for me. And one thing I learned is that women don’t get enough credit when it comes to men’s sports and a man’s world," he said. "It’s the women who really made me who I am today. Quiet, strong and hard-working.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for my wife, and this is honestly true, I’d probably be lying in the cemetery right now. That’s why I don’t lack for love or confidence, because of those women who have built my career. I just want to give them credit.”
Crews repays the compliment, calling Dezurn “the main man in me and my mother’s life, rest her soul. He was there for us. Aside from boxing, he’s a great man.”
Besides his wife, Dezurn has sparred with some of the sport’s top fighters, including two-division champion, former two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the world’s top pound-for-pound boxers, Vasyl Lomachenko. The fighter nicknamed "Hi-Tech" knocked out Jason Sosa last weekend at the same venue Dezurn will fight at on Friday.
“Lomachenko is a gifted fighter. You’re really not going to come across a fighter like him every day, so to spar with him was an honor,” Dezurn explained. “He had tremendous technique. He’s just gifted. He’s confident. He’s the full package. It was an honor for me.”
Dezurn learns from everyone he spars with, regardless of whether it’s his wife, or “Joe Blow” or Lomachenko. “That’s one thing about me, I always learn. But being in there with him gave me extra confidence,” he said. “I learned some things and it also showed me where I’m at.”
His shot on national television means the world to Dezurn, but he’s not just thinking about himself. He wants to win for everyone who helped him get to this point.
“It’s for those who fought to get me here, like Barry Hunter, my wife, and those who give the underdog a chance,” he said, “like Greg Cohen, my promoter. I really want to make them proud, you know what I mean? There’s no pressure on me, but I really take pride in the people who root for me and are fighting to get me in this spot. I want them to come out on top.
“So when I win this fight against Davila -- and I’m not being cocky, just confident -- I’m going back to the gym after maybe 2-3 days rest, and I’ll get ready for the next one. I’m an old-school fighter. I don’t get caught up in hype.”
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