For Amir Khan, pride came after the fall, no slip-ups or slipshod work this time as he restored the slight blemish to his growing reputation by inflicting a crushing defeat on Stoke's Scott Lawton in the first defence of his two-month-old Commonwealth lightweight title last night.
Knocked down when he won the belt against Willie Limond, the 20-year-old Khan went back to the drawing board and learned the lesson. Here was a more measured approach – measured but still devastating enough for a blistering victory in four rounds. The fight was stopped by referee Victor Loughlan with Lawton reeling on the ropes from a savage attack which began when he was clipped by a right to the jaw.
It was Khan's 14th successive victory, and one of his most accomplished: "Getting knocked down was a learning curve for me," he said afterwards. "It has made me a better fighter. I've got the power, and I just wanted to put everything right.
"Fights like this will make me ready for a world title soon because I'm getting better all the time. I knew he was strong so I slowed him down with body punches, I was picking my shots, pacing myself, using my jab and choosing the time to go in."
Khan began by using his jab and footwork more effectively than he did in the opening rounds against Limond but he was soon whipping over his right hand, catching Lawton with a blistering cluster of blows. The only thing Khan seemed to have forgotten was his gum shield – he had to return to his corner to collect it during the first round – but he kept catching Lawton, dazing him with a dazzling array in the second, and the third followed a similar one-way pattern. The end came just 30 seconds into the fourth round and Khan had amply demonstrated he had noted the wakeup call he received from Limond. But last night he faced an experienced opponent known more for style than dishing out the sort of stick that would explore Khan's vulnerability.
Khan still talks of fighting for a world title next year, yet there really seems no need to rush, as his promoter Frank Warren keeps telling him. First things first. When he comes of age in December he will be eligible to fight for the British title and there is a ready-made match waiting to happen. After Jon Thaxton's last- round stoppage of Dave Stewart in London on Friday, the British lightweight champion has been named as leading contender for Khan's Commonwealth crown in what could be a dual title fight.
As they have been calling each other out recently, it is a pairing that seems natural. Whether politics will see either of them back off is a matter of speculation. Thaxton would offer a sterner test to Khan's chin than last night's 31-year-old. Khan says Thaxton, at 33, is "too old, too slow, too predictable" but the point is he can hit.
Khan is keen to learn and is even considering offering his sparring services to Floyd Mayweather in the American's preparation for his date with onlooking Ricky Hatton on 8 December – which happens to be Khan's 21st birthday. He will celebrate that night by making his next appearance in home town Bolton.
He received a testimonial from the old pro Lawton, who readily acknowledged the quality of his quicksilver punching, nodding in appreciation as they embraced: "He's still got some way to go but one day he will be untouchable."
There were anxious moments after Welshman Bradley Pryce, Pryce, a stablemate of the world super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, retained his Commonwealth light-middleweight title against 26-year-old Martin Concepcion of Leicester. Concepcion was knocked cold by a left hook midway through the third round and had to receive oxygen after referee Howard Foster immediately stopped the fight. But he recovered and although he had to be helped to his feet, hecould leave the ring unaided.
Bradford's Femi Fehintola won the vacant English super-featherweight title, recovering from an early knockdown to outpoint Stephen Bell of Manchester by 95 points to 94.Reuse content