Oleksandr Usyk delivered a stylish and measured display to pick apart Derek Chisora in a points win that underlined his credentials at heavyweight.
The former unified world cruiserweight champion moved with grace and picked punches beautifully to frustrate his British rival over 12 rounds.
An attack in the seventh sent Chisora staggering to the ropes as Usyk found ways to land while always on the move.
Chisora worked hard but had no reply and lost 117-112 115-113 115-113.
In the immediate aftermath, Chisora said he felt he had done enough to beat the Ukrainian but the BBC 5 Live Boxing team at ringside at Wembley Arena felt Usyk merited a wider decision on the judges’ cards.
Fans were unable to attend a heavyweight bout that was highly anticipated for the clash of styles on offer but WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was among those watching from ringside.
With this win, Usyk, 33, remains mandatory challenger for Briton Joshua’s WBO belt and, while he may not have found the eye-catching knockout win fans so often long for at heavyweight, his skill set is obvious.
The craft, quick feet and general intelligence that saw him dominate at cruiserweight was on display and while Chisora, 36, always looked to walk forward and engage, the movement from his rival ultimately dictated large spells of the fight.
Chisora brought the pressure and rugged style he had promised early on when he enjoyed his best period and heavy-favourite Usyk staggered after taking a shot in the opening 30 seconds.
Chisora looked to tire his opponent by working the body, while Usyk’s approach was to test his rival’s stamina with constant movement. By the end of the seventh, a combination looked to have Chisora in trouble just as the bell ended the round.
Usyk landed a clean left hook in the eighth and, with BBC 5 Live pundit Dillian Whyte questioning the guidance Chisora was receiving in his corner, the Briton was unable to dig out the kind of thrilling fightback that has endeared him to fans in recent years.
While Usyk only gave himself “three out of 10” for the display, he will undoubtedly prove a tricky puzzle to solve in his new weight division.
Usyk wants the world – reaction
The 2012 Olympic champion could now move on to face another gold medallist from the Games in Joshua if the British boxer still holds the WBO belt in 2021.
Asked if his goal is to still become a world champion at heavyweight, Usyk replied: “Absolutely. The undisputed world heavyweight champion. Not just world champion.
“It is a real test at heavyweight. Chisora is a big guy, a hard guy. I was expecting the fight like that and an even tougher fight.”
A dejected Chisora, who fell to his 10th defeat in 42 outings, felt he had won, adding: “I gave a few rounds away but I was pushing the pace. But the judges saw it a different way.
“He did very well. I am gutted.”
‘Chisora got wrong advice’ – analysis
BBC Radio 5 Live analyst Steve Bunce:
Chisora never stopped trying. He may have been doing the wrong thing or getting the wrong advice but he never stopped trying.
British heavyweight Dillian Whyte on BBC Radio 5 Live:
Usyk has pedigree and is a good mover so of course he can be a force. I don’t see anything where I think ‘wow this is crazy’. He’s a good mover that’s it.
I don’t know what advice he [Chisora] was being given. It is a joke. Maybe their plan was to survive 12 rounds.
Derek wasn’t cutting him off or targeting the body. I don’t know what was going on.
‘The right man won’ – reaction
Former world super-middleweight champion George Groves: I had it 9-3 Usyk. Felt he took his foot off the gas when he didn’t get Chisora out of there after the big seventh round. Waited for the last onslaught from Chisora to come and pass but didn’t fancy pushing for an early finish. Great win nonetheless.
Olympic gold medallist Audley Harrison: Good, good fight – Derek fought his heart out and did everything he could to break Usyk down … a classic boxer versus the slugger match-up but the right man won. But salute to Chisora for digging deep and having such a solid performance.
Former world-title challenger Paul Smith Jr: Had it 9-3 Usyk. Chisora unfortunately did what a lot of fighters do against elite fighters and started in fourth gear. Brave and very good effort from Chisora, tough as old boots and moves great for a heavyweight.
Former world-title challenger Matt Macklin: I thought it was 116-112 to Usyk. Fantastic effort from Chisora but I thought Usyk was a clear winner in a hard fight.