By Alexey Sukachev

Ekaterinburg Expo,Ekaterinburg, Russia - It was predicted to be a blowout. it turned to be a barely watchable clinch-fest. At the end, the winner was still the same - Zolani Tete, who retained his WBO bantamweight title and became WBSS second season semifinalist with a hard-fought decision over Russia's Mikhail "Misha" Aloyan. Final scores were: 114-110, 114-111 and 114-111 - for the defending champion.

Tete, 30 and 4-1 in world title fights, was making the third defense of his maroon belt. He got his (then-interim) version of the title a month before Aloyan, also 30, made his pro debut. Their pro experience was extremely different but Aloyan made up for it with his amateur experience, as he was a two-time world champion and a two-time Olympic medalist with several wins against present pros.

Aloyan's amateur career didn't help him in the beginning of the fight, when the South African immediately started to sting him with huge right hands. Aloyan was smartly on retreat but still got down for the first time in his short paid career after he lost his balance from one of Tete's bombs. The second was also not very successful for the Russian.

In the third, WBA #5 and WBO #10 Aloyan started to make adjustments, and it helped him as he was able to land some clean, though weak, shots on Tete. He continued to improve in the fourth, but Tete has smartly changed his tactics to clinch whenever Aloyan was inside.

The mid rounds saw Tete slowly imposing his will on Aloyan, despite the latter matching the champion's speed. Aloyan looked solid in the eighth but Tete got stronger in the ninth, including some fine feints, which frustrated the Russian.

In the crucial tenth round, a number of clinches resulted in several stern warnings by referee Kenny Chevalier. He has finally deducted a point from the champion for holding. The South African had his moments too, opening a severe cut over the Russia's right eyebrow.

In the eleventh, Aloyan was also deducted a point for the same reason. Both boxers carried onto the final round but it was Tete (28-3, 21 KOs), who had a final say.

BoxingScene had it 113-112 - also for Tete -  in a close, somewhat ugly fight. Aloyan in his fifth fight only showed some solid skills but got down to 4-1, 0 KOs, with the first loss of his career.