( AFP ) - Amir Khan showed he was back on top form Saturday by avoiding another knockdown and stopping Scott Lawton in the fourth round to retain his Commonwealth lightweight title in assured style.
Khan defended his title for the first time by halting his fellow Englishman at the Nottingham Arena, central England, with a ferocious assault on the ropes in an impressive display.
In a much tidier effort than his last fight, when he was floored before stopping Scotsman Willie Limond in July, Khan penned Lawton against the ropes and unloaded a flurry of blows to the head before the fight was stopped.
It was his 14th professional fight since winning silver at the 2004 Olympic Games.
He totally dominated Lawton, who struggled to put Khan on the back-foot at any stage because of the Bolton, northern England boxer's lightning speed.
The 20-year-old promised he would tighten up his guard to ensure he was not deposited on the canvas again but for all his improved preparations, Khan made a comically disorganised start.
It took him at least a minute to realise he had started the fight without putting in his gumshield.
When the action resumed, Khan dominated behind his piston-like jab and landed three and four punch clusters.
Lawton, who was stopped on a cut in his previous fight against British champion Jon Thaxton, was roared on by 2,000 of his fans but found it hard to get out the way of Khan's quick hands.
Khan punished him on the counter and in the third lashed in a crunching left hook to the body. Khan's defence was tighter this time and Lawton penetrated the champion's guard with only a few blows in the opening three rounds.
Khan kept up the pressure at the start of the fourth and after seeing Lawton wobble, he pounced.
The challenger's legs shook under a straight right and Khan then clubbed his head with unanswered punches on the ropes before the referee jumped in to stop the fight.
As part of tighter pre-fight preparation regime, Khan opted not to observe Ramadan fasting in the build-up.
"It would be hard for me to do the fasting for Ramadan. From 5am to 7pm you are fasting and it's hard to train during that period and keep your metabolism right so I can make the weight," he said beforehand.
"My faith is everything to me and it has got me to where I am today, but it was just too hard to do the fasting this time."