HUDDERSFIELD hero James Hare underlined his class, and credentials to reach for a higher level still, with a ruthless first defence of his World Boxing Foundation welterweight title.
The unbeaten 27-year-old from Berry Brow floored experienced South African opponent Jan Bergman six times in less than four minutes, forcing referee Howard Foster to call a halt just 55 seconds into the second round at the Sports Centre on Saturday.
The slick showcase success came hot on the heels of fellow Huddersfield fighter Mark Hobson's British cruiserweight title triumph over Rob Norton at Sheffield Ponds Forge on Friday.
And another bumper Sports Centre crowd, including Lindley- based Hobson, complete with his Lonsdale belt, lapped up Hare's 14th stoppage in 27 career wins.
Former World Boxing Union champion Bergman went into the bout boasting a record of 42 wins (31 knock-outs) in 46 outings and had given the International Boxing Organisation champion Jawaid Khaliq a tough time in March.
But after being felled by a perfectly-timed left hook less than 90 seconds into Saturday's contest, he wasn't given chance to recover.
Bergman beat the count, then resorted to holding as Hare moved in to finish things off.
The South African hit the canvas three more times and was given another count, before being saved by the bell, with his cornermen working flat out to revitalise their fighter.
It was to no avail, however, as Hare put Bergman down a fifth time, then delivered the conclusive blow, another left hook.
The South African rose to his feet at the eight count, but looked shaky in the extreme, and referee Foster wisely stepped in.
"The pressure was on me tonight, and I'm so pleased to have come through," said Hare, who now has real claims to be Britain's best in the 10st 7lb division.
"Technically speaking, it was the perfect left hook. I walked him onto it and I felt it twang, so I knew it had connected. He was holding all the time, so it was just a case of getting him out of there as fast as I could.
"Bergman is a cagey old pro who still had a dig, and I've got rid of a good opponent. That shows I'm still learning and still improving, and I'm starting to believe in my ability."
Hare looks set to get another chance to display his skills at the Manchester Evening News Arena on Saturday, October 18, when he will again defend his crown on the Michael Brodie v In Jin Chi bill.