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NEW YORK-- Nigeria's Samuel Peter survived three knockdowns en route to a 12-round unanimous decision over American Jameel McCline here on Saturday to cement his World Boxing Council interim heavyweight title.
McCline, a late replacement in the bout that was to have seen Peter challenge Oleg Maskaev for the Russian's WBC crown, knocked down Peter at the end of the second round and twice in the third.
But by the fifth the momentum had swung Peter's way, and the powerful puncher did enough through the rest of the fight to earn the decision.
"That's why I stood up - I'm the champion," Peter said.
The judges scored it 113-112, 115-111 and 115-110 for the Nigerian, who was awarded the interim champion tag by the WBC after Maskaev's injury withdrawal from his mandatory title defence.
Peter, who said in a post-fight television interview he was fighting with an injured hand, improved to 29-1, with 22 knockouts.
McCline, 37, fell to 38-8-3, with 23-knockouts after his fourth miss in a title attempt. He acknowledged that Peter may have done enough to win the fight, but was dismayed by the disparity of the scores. "I concede maybe a one point loss, or a split decision, but unanimous, come on," he said.
Still, McCline knew he missed a golden chance in the third round, when he sent Peter down twice.
"I let the opportunity get away," McCline said. "I thought I had him. He got away. That's why he's the champion." McCline's first title shot was for the lightly regarded World Boxing Organization belt then held by Wladimir Klitschko in 2002, when he was knocked down three times in the 10th and failed to answer the bell for the 11th. - Sapa-AFP