Russian boxer Aleksander Povetkin beat Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan to take the vacant World Boxing Association heavyweight title on a unanimous points decision in Erfurt, Germany, on Saturday.
The Russian wore down his opponent with combinations of upper cuts and jabs to retain his unbeaten record, now 22 wins with 15 knockouts, in his first career title shot.
“All the way through the fight, I felt I could win it,” Povetkin said.
Chagaev, who came strong in the middle rounds when he began to regularly connect with his scything left hook, eventually succumbed to Povetkin’s brisker movement and greater aggression. Chagaev’s victory marks a second career defeat for the Uzbek, a former holder of the same title, after he lost to Wladimir Klitschko in 2009.
Saturday’s fight was for the WBA heavyweight belt that Klitschko had to relinquish after becoming the association’s super champion for beating Briton David Haye in July.
The triumph may bring Povetkin a shot at the winner of the Vitali Klitshcko-Tomasz Adamek WBC title bout in Poland next month.
Chagaev looked to have seized the momentum in round six by landing two big lefts that winded his opponent and allowed Chagaev to dominate the next few rounds.
But Povetkin caught a second wind and began to work Chagaev on the inside to score consistently with jabs and upper cuts. The Uzbek paced the ring in the final round in search of the knockout blow he knew he needed, but it never came.