STUTTGART, Germany -- Alexander Povetkin did just enough Saturday to earn a points decision over Marco Huck and retain his WBA heavyweight title.
Huck, the WBO cruiserweight champion, had the undefeated 32-year-old Povetkin staggering back against the ropes in the fourth and seventh rounds, but the German was unable to deliver the knockout blow.
Belgian judge Philippe Verbeke called it a draw, 114-114, but England's John Coyle and South Africa's Stanley Christodoulou awarded it 116-113 and 116-112 respectively to the defending champion.
The decision was greeted by a chorus of boos at Porsche Arena, with Huck claiming victory over his 20-pound heavier opponent.
"He couldn't stand anymore and he's been judged champion," Huck said. "The guy couldn't stand."
Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs) was standing after making his second defense of the title, but appeared exhausted after an engaging bout.
"I underestimated him," Povetkin said. "Perhaps I didn't take this fight seriously enough."
The Russian started well, but the bout came to life in the fourth, when he seemed in serious trouble as the Yugoslav-born Huck (34-2, 25 KOs) launched combination blows.
Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic heavyweight champion, ducked to avoid further punishment and Huck was warned about punching down on the back of his head.
"I mean, when someone drops their head so low and doesn't get a warning -- I don't understand that," Huck's coach Ulli Wegner said. "I said, 'Marco, you've a chance of winning through knockout.' He was gone, one more right and finished."
Huck's best chance of finishing the bout early came in the seventh, when Povetkin was saved only by the bell. He managed to compose himself for the remaining rounds.
Both fighters found it hard to land clean blows, though Huck caught Povetkin with a huge right in the 10th round and again in the 12th, after Povetkin opened a gash above Huck's right eye.
"A lot of people who saw this fight see me as the winner," the 27-year-old Huck said.