DeeJay Kriel has realised a long-held dream to become a major world champion. Photo: Nick Lourens/African News Agency/ANA

LOS ANGELES – South Africa’s DeeJay Kriel defied the odds when he stopped the previously undefeated Mexican Carlos Licona in the 12th round to claim the International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimum-weight belt at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Licona landed power shots from the opening bell, which left the gutsy Kriel, 23, with his face puffed up and swollen.

However, the superbly fit and gutsy South African, who was contesting his first fight in America, kept coming back at the champion and dropped him three times in the last round.

Referee Wayne Hedgpeth immediately waved the fight off, and crowned Kriel the new champion at two minutes 16 seconds into the 12th round.

Kriel, improved his record to 16-1; 6 and Licona’s record dropped to 14-1; 2.

African News Agency (ANA)