STUTTGART, Germany -- Ruslan Chagaev outpointed Nikolai Valuev on Saturday to take the 7-foot Russian's WBA heavyweight title.
The loss was the first of Valuev's career. Instead of inching closer to Rocky Marciano's record of 49 fights at the start of a career without a loss, the 35-year-old Valuev dropped to 46-1 with one no-decision.
Chagaev, the 28-year-old Uzbekistan fighter who calls himself "White Tyson," had winning scores of 117-111 and 115-113 from two judges, and the third called it 114-114.
Chagaev, who gave away 11 inches and 90 pounds to Valuev, is 23-0-1.
"Today I made a lot of mistakes and Ruslan was a few points ahead," Valuev said. "My biggest mistake was the stamina in my legs was not good."
In the fourth round, Chagaev solved Valuev's jab that had kept him at bay. After that, the fight turned into a slugfest, the kind Chagaev -- a fighter who throws a lot of punches -- wanted.
"For everybody who said Nikolai was too big and heavy for me, well it's not important that am I smaller now, is it?" Chagaev said.
Valuev won his previous title defenses outjabbing smaller opponents but Chagaev lunged inside and caught Valuev with a left and short right to the temple in the fourth round and grew bolder. Chagaev won the next three rounds the same way before Valuev hit him with several quick shots to take the eighth.
The pair stood toe-to-toe in the 12th, bringing the 6,800 spectators to their feet. Valuev took a hard left just before the bell.
"He did us a favor tonight and attacked Ruslan," Chagaev trainer Michael Timm. "We disciplined Ruslan for 12 rounds, telling him he had to make Valuev attack and he would counter."
Chagaev used unorthodox methods to get a feel for Valuev's size, including trainer Michael Timm standing on a box during training.
"I know a thing or two about beating bigger favored opponents," Chagaev said.
As an amateur, he was one of the few to beat Cuban great Felix Savon, a 6-5 fighter. He became the No. 1 WBA mandatory challenger after a November victory over former champ John Ruiz.
But Chagaev came into the fight a heavy underdog against the Russian.
"It was a great, great fight -- better than anyone expected," said Don King, Valuev's promoter.