Actually, the front brake should be your "go-to-guy" on all paved surfaces, as it accounts for the overwhelming majority of braking force in a properly executed stop.what would be the circumstance where I would only apply the front brake?
As you apply the brakes, the weight of you and your bike shifts forward - the harder you brake, the faster the shift, applying more and more weight to the front wheel and less to the rear. At some point in that process, the rear brake becomes almost useless - in fact if you apply it along with the front, you will need to ease up on the rear as your bike stops. NESBA (Northeast Sport Bike Association) recommends that new riders at track days use the front brake only.
The shortest stopping distances will come with progressive braking - Both brakes applied initially, then as the weight shifts forward you apply more and more force to the front brake and less to the rear.
Several good books on the market (Twist of the Wrist by Code comes to mind) will explain in detail, but you need to find a nice clean parking lot and practice. Start at 15 mph and work you way up, and you'll soon be impressed with how fast you can stop - ABS or not.