ROSTOCK, Germany -- Hugo Hernan Garay of Argentina defended his WBA light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Juergen Braehmer on Saturday night.
Garay took control of the fight in the first three rounds, attacking and pressuring the German with fast combinations and forcing Braehmer to surrender his original fight plan.
Fighting only 56 miles from his place of birth, the hard-punching Braehmer managed to get back into the bout with some uppercuts, turning the middle rounds into a slugfest.
The judges scored it 118-110, 117-112 and 116-115, all for Garay.
"I think that I prepared well and it paid off tonight," the 27-year-old Garay said, after making his first title defense.
Garay (32-3) was foiled in two previous attempts to win the crown in Germany, losing twice to Hungarian Zsolt Erdei for the WBO version of the title. Garay finally won the vacant WBA belt last March when he defeated Yuri Barashian in Buenos Aires.
The 30-year-old Braehmer (31-2), rated No. 1 by the WBA, didn't hide his disappointment after losing a close decision in his home country. He also exuded humility, something of a rarity in the sport.
"I wanted to be a world champion, especially here in the region where I grew up, but I think that the fight tonight showed that I am still not at a level of a champion like Garay," he said.
Garay, who at the weigh-in on Friday claimed not to know Braehmer at all, praised the challenger's courage and endurance.
"He can really beat hard," a battered Garay said.