Whyte secured verdicts of 115-114 and 115-113 on two cards while Chisora edged the third by a point after a close and explosive contest.
Chisora was fighting under the threat of a two-year ban after hurling a press conference table in the acrimonious pre-fight build-up and the fight itself threatened to be anti-climactic.
But instead the pair captured the imagination of the 21,000 capacity crowd in a contest with ebbed and flowed with each fighter appearing on the verge of being stopped at numerous points.
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The fight came alive in the third round as Chisora, pressing forward, landed two big left hands which appeared to briefly wobble Whyte.
But Chisora was unable to sustain his spurts of activity, allowing his more one-paced opponent to get back into the fight until the fifth round, when a big assault by the favourite left Whyte looking vulnerable in the ropes.
Again, Chisora took a step back, allowing Whyte to respond with a couple of wild uppercuts, and the pair were more even going into the halfway stage, before a big eighth in which Whyte again looked on the verge of stoppage.
Chisora paid for his efforts as he gulped for breath through a slower-paced ninth, and Whyte took full advantage, bullying Chisora back into the ropes and unloading enough clean work to catch the eye of the judges.
Such a solid heavyweight fight deserved a grand finale and the pair provided it in the last, exchanging right hands and sharing an embrace at the final bell before the verdict, which the majority of the crowd greeted with boos.
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