Franchon Crews Wins WBC Super Middleweight Title in Las Vegas
By David A. Avila
LAS VEGAS- Franchon Crews powered through Maricela Cornejo behind combinations to win the vacant WBC super middleweight world title and fulfill a promise to her late mother on Thursday.
“I didn’t know if her (Cornejo) will was as strong as mine,” said Crews. “I’m just grateful. This is for my mom.”
Despite only four pro fights but plenty of amateur experience Crews (4-1) kept Cornejo (12-3, 5 KOs) on her back foot throughout the 10 round fight in winning by majority decision at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. It was the first female world title bout televised by ESPN in 14 years.
Crews, 31, used stiff jabs to the body to keep within striking distance of the taller Cornejo and connected with overhand rights early in the fight. Cornejo fired back with her own straight rights but not enough to offset the work of Crews.
“She was a mover and I was a little overwhelmed at first,” said Crews. “I wanted it so bad. But I used the jab a lot.”
The California-based Cornejo was tossed down by Crews who was warned by referee Jay Nady for in the infraction. Cornejo stepped up the tempo in the second round with a strong one-two combination and continued to find success with right leads. It looked like Cornejo had found her rhythm but it did not last.
Crews resorted back to walking down Cornejo who tried to counter with right leads but in the third round, the Maryland fighter took that option away. Crews landed some strong lefts to the body and rights to the head and just kept the pressure on Cornejo who fired jabs but not enough to offset Crews work rate.
Pressure remained the theme for Crews who never stepped backward and kept Cornejo from mounting any kind of rally. The former amateur national champion kept the pressure on by simply firing more punches than Cornejo. It became a redundant theme.
In between rounds Cornejo seemed to have problems with her back and tried stretching it by leaning back against the ropes.
In the seventh round Crews smacked Cornejo with a strong right cross that snapped her head back. But the California-based fighter did not seem hurt by the blow. Still, she never could match Crews work rate.
Both fighters slowed a bit in the eighth round and fought more deliberately in the ninth as if preparing for the 10th and final round.
Cornejo, 31, turned on the steam for the final round and was effective with strong jabs. After using the jab Cornejo snapped Crews head back with a strong right but not enough to do damage. More rights followed and it was perhaps Cornejo’s best round since the second. The 10th round ended sending the decision to the score cards.
One judge scored it a draw 95-95 but the other two saw Crews the winner by scores of 99-91 each and the owner of the WBC super middleweight world title.
“I thought it would go 10 rounds,” said Crews. “But I was a little worried when they read the cards. I felt I had thrown enough punches to win. I just wanted to show the fans what I could do.”
After nearly quitting the fight game and losing her mom almost two years ago after her pro debut, Crews had finally reached her goal.
“Finally. I can’t believe it,” said Crews whose title fight was the first shown by ESPN since Layla McCarter fought Chevelle Hallback in 2004. ““It just reaffirms my belief in the divine order. My journey is already written. I’m just living it. Now, no matter what happens, my children will know I was a world champion.”
Crews finally has her day.
(Photo by Al Applerose)