James DeGale was forced to work hard as he retained his European super-middleweight title with a gritty points win over Hadillah Mohoumadi.
DeGale showcased his slick ring skills in the early rounds, but Mohoumadi's crude constant attacks tested the champion's stamina as he took victory with scores of 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112.
Mohoumadi marched forward from the first bell and walked into some hurtful hooks from DeGale, who caught the challenger with swift combinations in the second.
DeGale picked apart his opponent's defence in the third, although a Mohoumadi hook got his attention, and he was briefly bullied to the ropes in the fourth.
Mohoumadi was caught with a crisp uppercut as he allowed DeGale to tee off in the fourth, but the Frenchman fired back in the fifth with the Londoner content to work off the ropes.
DeGale was being dragged into an ugly battle and his quick handspeed no longer appeared to worry the relentless Mohoumadi, who clubbed home punches from close-range.
Mohoumadi was forced into reverse by a right hand-left hook combination from DeGale in the tenth, while 'Chunky' lashed his foe with hooks in an exciting final round.
"He was tough, I knew he was going to be game and durable, but I didn't think he was going to be that tough," said DeGale. "He took some good shots and he came back as well."