Ilunga Makabu won the vacant WBC cruiserweight belt with a unanimous 12-round points decision over Michal Cieslak in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Friday night.
The scores were 116-111, 115-111 and 114-112, all in favour of Makabu.
Cieslak (19-1; 13), working from behind his jab, possibly did enough to shade the first round and also won the third round which was reported as only being two minutes at the bell.
However, the local favourite picked up the pace in round four and scored a knockdown.
In round five, Makabu’s glove touched the canvas and it was ruled as a knockdown by the referee.
Makabu, 32, who was in tremendous condition, finished strongly in the second half of the fight to win a popular decision and the belt.
Makabu improved his record to 27-2; 24.
There are two South African cruiserweights, Thabiso Mchunu (22-5; 13) and IBO champion Kevin Lerena (24-1; 11), who could prove a good test for the new champion.