Russia's Nikolai Valuev has defended his World Boxing Association title in Zurich with a majority decision win over former world champion Evander Holyfield.
Despite a brave display over the 12 rounds from 46-year-old Holyfield, who was bidding for his fifth world crown, the judges scored 114-114, 116-112, 115-114 in Valuev's favour.
The giant Russian successfully defended the vacated title he won against John Ruiz in August.
"He was a strong opponent and he made me work very hard for the win," said Valuev after his victory.
"It was a challenging fight, it was a hard fight, he was unbelievably fast with his punches.
"I am proud to have fought him, it was a fast paced fight."
But it was not an impressive display from Valuev and Holyfield's coach Thomas Brooks insisted the better fighter had lost.
"We didn't fail, we won that fight here," said Brooks.
"As far as I am concerned, we won and anyone who knows me knows I call a spade a spade."
And Holyfield's manager Kenneth Sanders said he wants a re-match in Zurich next year, which Valuev's camp immediately said was possible.
Holyfield now has a record of ten defeats, 42 wins with 27 knock-outs and two draws from his 54 fights.
"Of course I am disappointed," said Holyfield. "I thought I had won the fight, I thought I had won more rounds than he did.
"Now I will just have to go home, rest and think about my future. My goal is to be heavyweight champion of the world, I am not interested in fighting for the sake of fighting; I want to be a champion again.
"He had a pretty good defence by the way he positioned his body, he is a hard target to hit."
He might have been a long way from Atlanta, but Holyfield could have been fighting in front of a home crowd so loud were the chants of "Holyfield, Holyfield!" ringing around Zurich's Hallenstadion from the sell-out 12,500 crowd.
Holyfield came out all guns blazing and landed a strong right-hand to the face in the first round, later catching the champion flush in the face three times in the second round.
Despite being 11 years older, 43kg lighter and nearly 30cm shorter than Valuev, 35, the heaviest and tallest champion in history, Holyfield used his experience to good effect.
He stayed ahead of the champ by never allowing himself within Valuev's reach for long.
By the sixth round, Holyfield was showing signs of tiring after his frantic start and the champion caught him with several shots.
Despite his limited statics of throwing punches from the middle of the ring, Valuev got involved in heavy exchange in the seventh and eight rounds, while Holyfield stumbled in the ninth on a wet spot on the canvas.
Flurry of punches
It was the signal for Valuev to go in for the kill with a quick flurry of punches, but Holyfield stood his ground and hit back hard, the challenger finished the round stronger.
But at the end of the eleventh there was very little between the fighters and in the twelfth the crowd were firmly behind the United States fighter as cries of support again echoed around the arena.
In the end, Holyfield's dream of becoming the oldest man in history to win a world title was gone.
Valuev will now have to defend his title against former WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev, the only man to beat him in 52 fights, by next June.
swissinfo with agencies
The Russian won the World Boxing Association title on December 17, 2005, beating American John Ruiz, and successfully defended the title three times.
On April 14, 2007, he lost his title to Ruslan Chagaev by majority decision.
He won the WBA title again on August 30, 2008.
Valuev is known mostly for his enormous size (2.13 metres).