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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Fedor Chudinov of Russia defeated former middleweight champion Felix Sturm of Germany by split decision for the vacant WBA super middleweight title on Saturday. Judges Robert Hoyle and Victor Simons gave it to Chudinov by 118-110 and 116-112 respectively, while Juan Manuel Garcia Reyes awarded it 116-112 to Sturm, despite him rarely troubling the undefeated Russian but for a brief flurry in the sixth and seventh rounds. ''It was a tough bout but I'm world champion now, and that's fantastic,'' Chudinov said. The title was made vacant when Carl Froch was stripped of the belt because of a failure to defend it since beating George Groves in an all-British bout at Wembley Stadium in May 2014. An attempted fight with Julio Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas fell through. Sturm, who lost his IBF middleweight title to Sam Soliman of Australia by unanimous decision in May 2014, was sent sprawling back against the ropes with a left-right combo at the end of the ninth round, and might have been knocked out in the next, only for Chudinov to lose his mouthguard allowing him some respite. Chudinov improved to 13-0 (10 KOs) while the 36-year-old Sturm dropped to 39-5-3 (18 KOs). ''He was very well prepared,'' said Sturm, who won the WBA, IBF, and minor WBO belts as a middleweight. ''That's boxing. I'm thankful to have had the chance to go for my fifth title.''