Sheffield, February 9: Kell Brook reignited his ambitions to become a two-weight world champion with an authoritative seventh-round stoppage of Mark DeLuca.
The 33-year-old former IBF welterweight king was back in action before his adoring Sheffield public for the first time in 14 months and seeking to banish memories of a ragged December 2018 decision win over Australia's Michael Zerafa.
Brook conceded his career at elite level would be finished without impressing against the unheralded DeLuca (24-2) and he cranked through the gears after a cagey opening couple of rounds.
The one-time US Marine was dropped and given an eight count after a crisp Brook uppercut followed precise hooks from both wings. DeLuca's nose was badly bloodied and he was glad to hear the bell at the end of rounds four and five.
Despite belligerently firing back throughout, the sixth was similarly torrid for the visitor before a chopping left lead from his tormentor closed the show in style.
Brook collected the WBO's inter-continental light-middleweight strap and an all-British showdown against the organisation's former champion Liam Smith, who watched from ringside, could be up next.
Brazil's Patrick Teixeira holds the 154lbs WBO title and has a mandatory obligation against Argentina's Brian Castano to negotiate.