KIEL, Germany (AP) — Arthur Abraham knocked out American Elvin Ayala with a 12th-round uppercut on Saturday and successfully defended his IBF middleweight title for the seventh time.

The victory paved the way for the unbeaten German to keep a scheduled bout in New York on June 7 against an undetermined opponent. He is ranked second to Kelly Pavlik among the world's middleweights by the IBO.

Abraham knocked down Ayala (18-3-1) in the fifth — the first time the American had been off his feet in his career — and followed with a barrage of punches in the subsequent three rounds.

Apparently unable to land the knockout blow, Abraham (26-0, 21 knockouts) seemed to relent in the final round.

But with 30 seconds left, Abraham's left uppercut raised Ayala off his feet and into the air, drawing a roar from the crowd. The American flopped onto his knees and his head pitched forward onto the canvas.

"I always believe in my knockout," Abraham said. "But first you have to control the fight, then the knockout comes from itself."

Ayala, without any major victories on his record, was expected to be a steppingstone for the Armenian-born Abraham, who has a flair for the dramatic.

"I think that was a lucky punch," Ayala said. "They call him King Arthur? He deserves it. I wanted to be king, but it didn't happen."