SA boxer relinquishes world title over money unhappiness

03 July 2019 - 10:21
By David Isaacson
US-based South African boxer Dee-Jay Kriel celebrates after winning the WBC minimum weight international championship in March 2018.
Image: Gallo Images US-based South African boxer Dee-Jay Kriel celebrates after winning the WBC minimum weight international championship in March 2018.

US-based boxer Dee-Jay Kriel is to vacate his IBF strawweight crown without making a defence and step up one division to junior-flyweight.

The boxer‚ who was under instruction by the world sanctioning body to defend for a purse of $16‚250 (nearly R230‚000)‚ told TimesLIVE from his Las Vegas base on Wednesday morning it had always been his plan to move up in weight.

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“I’m going to vacate and then move up a division‚” said Kriel‚ who won the title in a stunning come-from-behind 12th-round stoppage over Carlos Licona in February.

“I’m not happy with the money I was offered and stuff.”

Kriel said one proposal had fallen through‚ and then he’d received an unsatisfactory offer to fight mandatory challenger Samuel Salva of the Philippines.

He rejected that and the fight went to a purse bid‚ which was won with the minimum allowable offer of $25‚000.

As champion Kriel‚ who moved to the US last year to further his boxing career‚ would have earned 65% of that‚ or $16‚250.

“I’ve fought for more money [before]. I left South Africa for those kind of reasons in the first place‚ to make more money‚ to get better opportunities.”

He described the situation as unfortunate‚ but said he was excited for the future.

“It was always my plan [to move up in weight].

"We were going to have one defence and then I was going to move up anyway. It just came earlier than I wanted it to. I would have liked to have defended it‚ made money‚ but it didn’t work out like that.

“I want to become a multi-division world champion anyway. I want to end up 115 [pounds] one day. I’d like to end up at junior-bantam‚” added Kriel.

Kriel said his team was in talks with Golden Boy Promotions about challenging WBO junior-flyweight champion Elwin Soto of Mexico‚ who recently dethroned Angel Acosta on a 12th round stoppage.

“It looks like it could happen‚ the only thing it could [take] time. It depends if there’s a rematch… if there’s rematch I’m just going to have to wait a little bit longer.”

Kriel joins Corrie Sanders and Hawk Makepula as the only SA boxers to give up world titles without putting them on the line.

Ironically‚ the same WBO junior-flyweight title Kriel is now hoping to fight for was relinquished by Makepula in 2000 after he’d won it against Jacob "Baby Jake" Matlala.

Sanders won the WBO heavyweight crown by stopping Wladimir Klitschko in 2003‚ but he eventually vacated that for the chance to fight Vitali Klitschko for the vacant WBC strap the following year.