SWINDON super-heavyweight Luke Watkins has his sights set on turning professional - but only when the time is right.
Watkins is mentored by Swindon’s Paddy Fitzpatrick and will headline his coach’s amateur show in March.
Watkins is also benefiting from Fitzpatrick’s links with top professional coach Adam Booth and has regular training sessions at his London gym. This includes mixing with Booth’s top boxers such as ex-heavyweight world champion David Haye and super-middleweight Commonwealth champion George Groves.
Watkins admits the experience is helping him learn the tricks of the trade but he is in no rush to enter boxing’s paid ranks.
“I’ve not achieved anything yet and I still have an awful lot to learn,” he said. “It’s very early days in my career. I’ve won nine and lost six in the amateurs.
“I’ve dished out some beatings and I’ve taken a couple but everything is going well.
“I’ve only ever trained with Paddy so working with Adam Booth was totally different, but I am getting used to that now.
“Turning professional is the aim but there is no rush, I will know when the time is right.
“I’ve been sparring professionals and technically I am there but what I lack is the experience.
Watkins says he is aiming for the top and working with the likes of Booth, Haye and Groves helps to spur him on.
“It’s great to work with these guys and see what they have to do to get to the level they have,” added Watkins. “I’m only just starting at the beginning, though.
“I’m getting back to fitness after a knee injury and I’ve only just quit work to concentrate on the boxing full-time.
“I’m not setting any real targets, I just want to achieve everything I possibly can. Most people target the British title but I’m not going to do that because you risk selling yourself short.”
Fitzpatrick is excited about Watkins’ potential but says he will not be rushed into going pro.
“This year is all about him getting experience,” said Fitzpatrick. “He will headline our amateur show in March and we’ll see how he deals with that.
“Because he is a super-heavyweight, he is a different breed when it comes to the professional game and things can happen for him more quickly than in other weight divisions.
“He has been with me four years now as an amateur but we’ll see how this year goes and then we’ll decide when is right for him to turn professional.”
Part of Watkins’ learning curve is to accompany Fitzpatrick when he is in the corner for pro boxing shows, the most recent of which was in Belfast last weekend. As part of Fitzpatrick’s link-up with Booth, he was in the corner for Andy Lee’s fight against Anthony Fitzgerald in Belfast. And Fitzpatrick says the experience will help Watkins in the long run.
“It’s great for Luke to be around big professional fights like this and see how it all works,” said Fitzpatrick. “It will help him in the long run and prepare him for similar situations when he turns professional.”
Fitzpatrick’s amateur show is on March 15 at the Oasis and tickets cost £15 standard and £40 VIP. Lee will be the special guest on the night. Visit www.fitzpatricksboxinggym.com or call 07917104000 for ticket details.