Jurgen Braehmer is on course for a long-awaited clash with Nathan Cleverly following a controversial victory over Edward Gutknecht in Berlin.
The German was handed a unanimous points decision in the WBO light-heavyweight eliminator despite many considering the younger Gutknecht the winner.
The European champion, who only previous defeat was to WBO super-middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz, started best and his workrate was such that he was ahead at halfway.
Braehmer's greater power started to have an effect in slowing Gutknecht's assaults and the latter was penalised for use of the forearm in the ninth round.
Both fighters appeared to flag in the last two rounds with neither having fought for nine months, although Gutknecht still appeared to land the more accurate blows.
However, the judges had it 117-110, 116-11 and 114-113 in favour of the former WBO champion, who could now fight Cleverly should the Welshman beat Robin Krasniqi in his upcoming mandatory defence.
Braehmer's own hold on the strap ended in 2010 and issues with health and a run-in with the law have restricted him to just three fights since.