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Deejay Kriel vacates IBF strawweight belt, all-Filipino matchup to fill vacancy

Deejay Kriel has vacated his title to move up to 108 pounds. Photo by Jhay Otamias
04
Jul

Deejay Kriel, who won the IBF strawweight title this past February, has vacated the belt, citing an interest in moving up in weight to compete at 108 pounds.

The news was conveyed to The Ring by matchmaker Sean Gibbons, who handles his career, and was confirmed by Kriel. 

Kriel (15-1-1, 7 knockouts) of Johannesburg, South Africa scored a come-from-behind knockout in round 12 to defeat Carlos Licona and win the belt, and had been scheduled to face mandatory challenger Samuel Salva in the Philippines.

“We were planning to move up but not exactly right now,” said Kriel. “Would have liked to defend first but the money wasn’t right so me and my team decided to move up earlier.”

Instead, the vacant title is likely to be filled by Salva (17-0, 10 KOs), the no. 1 contender, against his compatriot Pedro Taduran (13-2, 10 KOs), the next highest rated contender at no. 3, says Gibbons, who also represents the MP Promotions-backed Salva.

Art Monis, who handles Taduran, confirmed the fight, calling it a “good fight.”

The fight would be the third all-Filipino world title bout over the last two years, after Jerwin Ancajas vs. Jonas Sultan and Donnie Nietes vs. Aston Palicte in 2018, which came after a 93-year drought. Salva-Taduran will take place September 7 in Manila, making it the first all-Filipino world title fight in the Philippines since Pancho Villa defended his world flyweight title against Clever Sencio in 1925.

Taduran, 22, of Libon in Albay province, challenged unsuccessfully for the WBC strawweight belt held by Wanheng Menayothin in 2018, losing a unanimous decision in Thailand. He was last in action in December, knocking out Jeffrey Galero in two rounds.

Salva, also 22, of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental is coming off his best win to date, outpointing Rene Mark Cuarto in a title fight eliminator this past March.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add input from Kriel and Monis.