SWINDON’S Luke Watkins is determined to follow in the footsteps of sparring partner George Groves and win the senior ABA title.

Groves was crowned ABA champion in 2006 and 2007 before turning professional and Watkins says it is important for him to add the accolade to his CV.

Watkins returns to the ring this evening at Banbury ABC’s show, his first bout since losing in the final of the Novice Championships back in December, and he is keen to bounce back with a bang.

“I had a little catastrophe (losing the Novice final) just before Christmas and now I am ready to come back from that,” Watkins said. “It never really put me down and it wasn’t going to stop me on my travels because everything is a learning curve.

“I’ll just take the positive away from it.”

Thanks to his trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick’s involvment with professional super-middleweight star Groves, Watkins is getting first-class sparring and joining his stablemate on the list of ABA champions would mean the world to him.

“I’ve got this fight on Saturday and then it’s on to the Senior ABA’s,” added Watkins. “Obviously George has won the ABA title and I absolutely want to win it.

“I think it is the same for any boxer. The amateurs is my apprentiship and there are certain criteria you want on your CV as an amateur. Winning the ABA title is one of them and it is a title I definitely want to win. It would mean a lot to me.

“I just take sparring with George as it comes. Some days i am going to get whooped and other days I will try and whoop him. It’s a great experience though.”

Watkins is dropping down in weight for this fight and will compete at heavyweight in March’s ABA Championships. That should leave him at the top end of the heavyweight division and the Fitzpatrick’s Gym boxer believes the change will work in his favour.

“Dropping down will do me better,” said Watkins. “At super heavy I was always fighting at 93-94kg so I was always going to weigh-ins with my clothes on and mobile phone in my pocket to add a bit of weight on and make my weight appear more than what it was.

“Now hopefully to go back down I will have more power but I’ll only find out about the power when I get in there.

“It will be trial and error but I’m good at getting my weight down, I’m strict with my diet.”

Turning professional has always been the end game for Watkins but the Swindon heavyweight is not making any predictions when that time might come.

“I’m just going to take the ABA’s, go into them and smash it, then I’ll take the rest how it comes,” said Watkins. “I’ve learned there’s no direct path to where you are going in life.

“Anything can throw you in the mix or off track or further up the track, you just never know.

“I’ve always been patient and I know I have to be that extra bit patient just in case something bad happens.

“I feel confident ahead of this next fight, I just feel happy if that makes sense.

“Training has been good, I feel fit and I’ve got no niggly injuries touch wood.

“Training wise I am performing but you only know whether you are in shape when you perform in a fight.”