Ricky Burns defended his WBO lightweight belt for the second time in sensational style when he bludgeoned Kevin Mitchell to a fourth-round stoppage at the SECC in Glasgow.

The champion was at his most impressive in front of a partisan crowd as he made it 20 wins in a row against the brave English fighter, who was sent crashing to the canvas twice before referee Terry O'Connor stepped in to prevent further punishment.

Mitchell, the former British and Commonwealth super-featherweight champion, admitted defeat would force him to consider hanging up his gloves and Burns, with this superb performance, may well have confirmed that decision.

By contrast, the 29-year-old Scotsman arguably put in the best performance of his career and looks like he is ready to mix it with the best at this weight.

It was evening of some drama.

Hall of Fame MC, Michael Buffer, had flown in from the United States to call the fighters to battle, adding a little bit more prestige and glamour to the event.

By the time he had finished with his preliminaries, the crowd inside the 10,000-capacity arena were in a nationalistic frenzy.

Amid some din, which at times was deafening, Burns, the two-weight world champion, took control of the centre of the ring and looked confident and positive.

Both fighters traded punches, and good punches, to the delight of the fans with the Scot getting the cheers when the first round ended, as his supporters sensed something special was about to unfold.

Strong and forceful, the champion had Mitchell up against the ropes a couple of times in the second round and one right hand in particular appeared to rock the challenger to his toes.

Burns looked too powerful, especially when he sent in thumping right hands which brought the crowd to the boil and his combinations invariably had the Englishman back-tracking.

Mitchell, slowly sapped of belief and energy, found it all too much in round four.

He was battered to the ground with a left and right combination from Burns and when he recovered he was down again with a thunderous right.

Burns moved in to finish the contest off with a barrage of blows which brought O'Connor's intervention and which signalled a huge roar from the home fans.

Burns admitted he had looked to put on "educated pressure" in the fight as he utilised his increased power and confidence.

"I thought a couple of rounds were close but I think I showed again that I'm getting more confident and my boxing is changing," he said.

"I'm getting better and better and said Kevin would bring out the best in me, and he did."

Burns added: "When he went down for the second time I was thinking to myself, do I go in and finish it off or just hold off because I didn't know how much time was left in the round.

"But I just went for it and the ref did the right thing stopping it because I wasn't stopping punching."

Mitchell had said before the fight this was his last big chance and he might quit if he lost but he is determined to get back in the ring.

Mitchell, who felt his timing was out, said: "I want to get back in regularly and get back out fighting again soon.

"I've had about four fights in three or four years. It's ridiculous.

"I've got to get back working hard, get back sparring hard and fight again in December."