ERFURT, Germany (AP) — Alexander Povetkin of Russia defeated Ruslan Chagaev by unanimous decision Saturday to claim the vacant WBA heavyweight title.
The title was Wladimir Klitschko's following the Ukrainian's victory over David Haye by unanimous decision in Hamburg last month, but was declared vacant when the WBA elevated Klitschko to "super champion" status.
Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic heavyweight champion, remains undefeated after 22 fights (15 KOs), and becomes the mandatory challenger for Klitschko.
"I don't want to think about Klitschko," said Teddy Atlas, Povetkin's American trainer. "I want to think about Povetkin and this title ... we'll think about Klitschko some other time."
Povetkin won on the judges' cards 116-112, 117-113, 117-113.
Chagaev, of Uzbekistan, held the WBA title from 2007-09. His record fell to 27-2 (17 KOs), with one draw.
"I'm sorry, today was not my day. But that's boxing, that's sport," Chagaev said. "He's a good boxer, a real world champion now."
Chagaev, 32, recovered from a poor start to rattle Povetkin in the sixth round, catching him cleanly with left and right hooks to leave the 31-year-old unsteady on his feet.
Atlas called on Povetkin to fight for the honor of his father, who died last year, and the Russian regained the upper hand in the ninth as Chagaev appeared to tire.
"My father always hoped and wanted for me to be a world champion," Povetkin said.
"It was a very hard fight. It was very hard to fight him. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a very difficult and patient boxer."