Junior Witter defended his European light welterweight title with a unanimous decision over Andreas Kotelnik in Nottingham.
But it was an uninspiring display from the Bradford switch-hitter who looked to be coasting in the early rounds but faded badly as the fight wore on.
Two judges scored the fight 115-114 in Witter's favour while one inexplicably had it 117-111.
Witter is now angling for a shot at Ricky Hatton's IBF crown.
The 31-year-old is ranked four by the IBF and is in line for a title eliminator against Colombia's Juan Urango.
He is also rated three by the WBC, whose belt is owned by Floyd Mayweather, and four by the WBO, whose champion is Miguel Cotto.
Staying well out of trouble, Witter built up a handy lead over the first half of the fight but took his foot off the pedal in the middle rounds.
And as Witter's work grew more ragged, his 27-year-old opponent began to have some success on the counter.
And Kotelnik landed some stiff left hooks in the later rounds to leave Witter sweating on the decision, which was greeted with boos from sections of the crowd.
"It was a very tough encounter," said Witter. "I caught him with good shots but the speed and power weren't there.
"But Kotelnik is no bum, he's a world title-class opponent, and I just know I went in there and won it comfortably."
Given his unconvincing display, Witter feels one of the world title-holders might now consider him as a challenger.
"I know when I get in the ring against a world champion I will beat anyone out there - Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto or Ricky Hatton.
"Get me in the ring and I'll destroy them."