(CNN) -- Mikkel Kessler is the new World Boxing Council (WBC) super-middleweight champion after out-pointing Briton Carl Froch in a bruising encounter in his native Denmark on Saturday night.
Despite being previously unbeaten after 26 fights, the 32-year-old Froch never looked comfortable against his durable opponent, who was given the decision on all three of the judges scorecards after 12 brutal rounds in front of a partisan and passionate crowd at the MCH Messecenter in Herning.
Froch had Kessler on the canvas in the fifth round, but the referee ruled that the Dane had slipped, and the challenger eventually wore the champion down with a combination of hooks and jabs to take the belt by a margin of 117-111, 115-113 and 116-112.
The result means 31-year-old Kessler, who has lost just twice in 45 fights, is a world champion again just five months after losing his World Boxing Association (WBA) title to Andre Ward.
Although gracious in defeat, Froch questioned if the decision would have gone Kessler's way if the fight had taken place in his hometown of Nottingham, England.
"I feel terrible that I lost my title, absolutely gutted," Froch told ringside reporters after the fight.
"I don't want to make a mockery of anything but I feel if it was at home in my town, the decision would have gone the other way."
He added: "I took some big punches off a big puncher and I've got to give Kessler the credit he deserves. He stayed in there and is a strong, proud warrior."