TRAINER Paddy Fitzpatrick says Luke Watkins’ bout with Tommy McCarthy is the next step for his cruiserweight.

Watkins, who became Irish champion in June, has seen his potential bout with McCarthy elevated to official British cruiserweight title eliminator status by the British Boxing Board of Control.

Purse bids for the fight are due in to the BBBoC by September 13 with the McCarthy camp attempting to have the fight included on the Sky Sports bill promoted by Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn on October 21.

“It’s great news. It is the next step that we should be taking with Luke,” said Fitzpatrick.

“We could have continued to build his record but that isn’t the intention. The intention is to develop him as a fighter and put him in situations where he gets the opportunity to move forward.

“That is what this is, an opportunity to move forward against a very good man. This is the fight I have been trying to make since January.

“It’s not that the board have sanctioned it and we have to step up, it is the fight that we want and it has been very hard to make.”

Since claiming the Irish title earlier this year, Watkins has had some time away from the ring, but Fitzpatrick has said the 27-year-old former New College student is now back in training, Should the fight go ahead in October, Watkins’ opponent will have been out of the ring for almost a year, after his clash with Mike Perez that had been scheduled for June cancelled following a last-minute withdrawal.

“Luke is back in training already. He is over in Switzerland at the moment but he is doing conditioning over there,” added Fitzpatrick.

“He had a break but he has been back training for the last three weeks, so from Monday he will have seven weeks until September for the purse bids.

“Tommy is going to be the one with the long lay-off, he was due to fight Perez on June 10. “The fight is an excellent match-up because they are both great fighters.

“By the time we get to the fight, Tommy would have been out of the ring for a year and if he thinks he can step up straight away, he is underestimating Mr Watkins.”