Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov rose to the occasion throughout most of the night in the biggest fight of his career.
But it took the unbeaten heavyweight prospect holding off a late rally from determined veteran Tomasz Adamek to secure Saturday's title eliminator.
Glazkov (17-0-1, 11 KOs) fought past 10 rounds for the first time in his career and scored a unanimous decision (117-110, 117-111, 116-112) at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa. ESPN.com scored the bout 115-113 for Glazkov.
"I wasn't surprised because I felt I was controlling all of the fight and winning every single round," Glazkov said, through an interpreter. "I didn't have experience to go into 12 rounds, which was missing in my game plan, but I learned during this bout."
Glazkov, 29, dominated for the majority of the bout with a punishing jab that caused severe swelling around the right eye of Adamek (49-3, 29 KOs) in Round 2. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Ukraine continued to walk down and impose his size on Adamek, landing consistently with counter right hands.
"This is boxing, you know, sometimes it happens," said Adamek, of a badly swollen and bloody right eye that affected him throughout. "I have broken my nose in my career. This is boxing -- you never know what is going to happen."
Adamek, 37, was staggered by a hard right hand in Round 8 before getting hammered with power shots throughout most of Round 9. But the native of Poland never quit and posted a heroic final stand. Adamek produced his finest work in Round 12, connecting with a series of right hands on a fading Glazkov, whose left eye was swollen and bruised.
In the final two rounds, according to CompuBox, Adamek outlanded Glazkov 55-38 in total punches and 32-22 in power shots.
The loss snapped Adamek's five-fight winning streak since his 2011 title loss to Vitali Klitschko and dealt a major blow to any future hopes of contending for a belt. Because of that, Adamek openly considered retirement after the bout when asked if he plans on continuing.
"No, I have to stop," Adamek said. "I lose my chance and title shot is impossible. I don't know right now."
The victory proved to be a breakthrough one for Glazkov, who showed strong poise and confidence against a fighter with much more experience.
"This is a passing of the torch," said Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes both fighters. "Glazkov did everything he absolutely had to do to win this fight against a very tough and very accomplished opponent. Tonight he announced his arrival to everyone that he belongs among the top five heavyweights. Adamek is someone who has been a top 10 heavyweight for the last six to 10 years. I am really at a loss to say who amazed me more."
Chilemba handles Grachev
Light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba was simply too slick for the hard-charging Denis Grachev in the co-main event and cruised to a wide unanimous decision.
Chilemba (22-2-2, 9 KOs), 26, did the majority of his damage by working off of his quick jab and countering on the inside with his right hand. The native of Malawi, who fights out of South Africa, was victorious by scores of 100-90 and 99-91, twice. ESPN.com also had it 100-90 for Chilemba.
Grachev (13-3-1, 8 KOs) persevered through cuts above and below his left eye, along with bleeding from his nose, to make it an exciting fight over the second half of the scheduled 10 rounds. The 31-year-old native of Russia, who fights out of San Diego, was simply unable to land a sustained amount of power shots.
The light-hitting Chilemba, who suffered a small cut above his right eye in Round 6, fought in a much more exciting style than he has become known for and did well to trade with Grachev on the inside at key moments.