MENTION of the D-word in the toughest of sports will always cause a raising of the eyebrow.

Franchon Crews-Dezurn’s comment that she was “willing to die” almost went unnoticed in what proved a noisy and feisty media conference ahead of Saturday’s defence of her four world belts against Savannah Marshall in Manchester.

Given the racket the rivals made, it was apt the final stage to spout forth ahead of the trans-Atlantic super-middleweight confrontation should take place at the New Century Hall, a venue synonymous with famous old performers back in the day.

These two performers, with a solitary loss each, both to Claressa Shields, gave it their absolute all and that’s what Crews-Dezurn is promising against the Hartlepool fighter.

Given her extensive repertoire of skills and interests outside boxing, you would be forgiven for questioning the desire of the ‘Heavy Hitting Diva’ from Baltimore.

But those three words emphasised how much the headline match at the AO Arena means to her.

“I’ve worked my ass off to be here, I’m willing to die,” she bellowed.

“I’m going to take you into the darkness Savannah, I’m going to take you into deep water, I’m going to show you what it means to be a winner.”

Big words from the 36-year-old, who is making the maiden defence of the belts she assembled by beating Elin Cederroos at Madison Square Garden in April 2022, which was her eighth win on the spin.

Marshall is boxing for the first time since she failed in her attempt to become the undisputed world middleweight champion, losing to Shields ion front opf a sold-out 02 last October.

Crews-Dezurn, who called out the ‘Silent Assassin’ seconds after that historic showdown, accused Marshall of complacency against her friend and former USA team-mate.

“She underestimated [Claressa],” said Crews-Dezurn. “That’s what happens when you get content, when you think that everything is going to be given to you on a silver platter.

“You let someone come to your home town beat you to something you thought was yours and dog-walk you.”

That silver-platter quote sparked an angry response from Marshall, who while not back to her old muted ways, had been happy to take a verbal back seat until today.

“I’ve had nothing given,” said the 32-year-old, whose record reads 12-1 with 10 of her wins coming early. “I’ve worked hard for this. She did touch a nerve with that, I’m sick of hearing it.”

If there is an element of the champion having something to prove, that is certainly the case with Marshall, who still craves a re-match with Shields, quote possibly now at super-middle.

“I have another crack at becoming an undisputed world champion,” she said.

“For me this is a brilliant opportunity.

“It would mean everything to get them all again, I’ll probably not get this chance again.”

Marshall told Boxing News that she has prepared for what she expects to be roughhouse tactics from the champion.

“For 12 weeks in camp I’ve had people come and wrestle me, spoil and sit on my chest,” she said.

“That’s what I expect her to do. That’s what she’s done in every fight, but I’ve got the tactics to combat that.”
Elsewhere on the bill, her former Team GB comrade, Natasha Jonas, is also aiming to become a two-weight world champion when she faces Canada’s Kandi Wyatt for the vacant IBF welterweight title, having already clinched the IBF, WBC and WBO belts at super-welter last year.