MAGDEBURG, Germany (AP) _ Sven Ottke retained his IBF super-middleweight title with a controversial decision over Thomas Tate on Saturday after the fight was stopped because of a cut.

Ottke led on all three cards when the fast-paced fight was stopped early in the 11th round. The German was bleeding heavily from underneath the brow of the right eye.

Confusion broke out, with Tate, of Newport News, Va., believing he was the winner before ring officials ruled Ottke had retained his belt, saying the eye had been opened on an accidental head butt.

But in the ninth round, Tate, 165 pounds, had connected with a hard right during an exchange when blood suddenly began rushing from Ottke's eye. The referee, however, immediately told the judges he saw the cut open when the two collided.

``I don't think it was a head butt, but I delivered a heroic fight,'' said Tate, 33, fighting for a major title for the first time.

But, clearly it was the unbeaten German's best fight since he stripped Charles Brewer of the title in October on a split decision that was regarded as a big upset. It was his third defense of his crown.

Tate rocked Ottke (16-0) with a hard right in the first round, with the German telling his corner after the round the blow had made his head ring.

Ottke, 167 pounds, got tagged hard again in the fifth round.

But the 32-year-old German, who has never been dropped as a pro or in a long amateur career, charged out and took control of the fight with furious sixth and seventh rounds.

The light-hitting German, using his speed, went inside against Tate (36-6 with 26 knockouts) and worked both the body and the head with combinations.

Tate, whose right eye and face were swollen, came up on the short end of one exchange after another during the rounds.

The judges ruled the fight 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94, all for Ottke.

Tate, who appeared tired, came back in the 10th with some more shots, but the German again evened out the round at the end with some combinations.

Ottke's camp said after the fight they would be happy to give Tate a rematch.