SWINDON boxer Luke Watkins will drop down to the heavyweight division when he competes in the Senior ABA Championships later this year.

Watkins’ last fight was as a super heavyweight when he was controversially stopped in the final of the Novice Championship back in December.

The 24-year-old has not boxed since that fight but is back in full training and returns to the ring on February 22 in Banbury to warm up for his Senior ABA campaign.

Watkins’ trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick believes the move down in weight will bring out the best in his boxer.

“Dropping down to heavyweight means Luke will be at the bigger end of the heavyweight division,” said Fitzpatrick. “He will be stronger at heavyweight because he has been dealing with the big boys at super heavyweight.

“Injuries have got in the way of him growing into the super heavyweight division physically.”

Watkins will shortly begin sparring with Fitzpatrick’s British professional star George Groves, as the Swindon trainer carefully guides his boxer into the paid ranks.

And while Fitzpatrick will wait until the right time to turn Watkins professional, he says that could happen sooner rather than later if his boxer shows the right attitude.

“If he wins his fight in February and shows the right attitude then we will be looking to train him pro,” added Fitzpatrick.

“It is no longer experience that Luke needs because it’s not like he is a 13-fight novice. He has sparred with the likes of George (Groves), Andy Lee, David Haye and the Furys (Tyson and Hughie).

“If he is going to stay amateur I want it to be for a reason. You know you are going to get fights in the championships but if you are struggling to get fights then you are going to get more experience fighting as a pro.

“I’ve always believed in Luke if he can stay healthy and I think we are probably looking at him turning professional in September.”

Fitzpatrick also revealed he is targeting the cruiserweight division for Watkins when he finally does turn professional, adding: “The cruiserweight division is always that little bit weaker than heavyweight.

“I will always encourage Luke towards the heavyweight division but I think the cruiserweight division is a good one because every once in a while you get someone like David Haye who comes in and brings a bit of excitement.

“David was still able to step up to heavyweight and compete because the division was slightly weaker and Luke could do the same. I don’t think David Haye would have stepped up to heavyweight if people like Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe were still around.”