COMMONWEALTH champion Luke ‘The Duke’ Watkins says his love for reading is behind the mental progression he has made over the last few months.

The cruiserweight was due to box on Trifecta’s No Retreat No Surrender show at Swindon’s MECA on Saturday evening before the weather intervened.

While Watkins admits he was frustrated the bout was cancelled, he says he understands the decision as he now prepares to sit down with his trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick to plot his next career move.

Last Saturday was due to be the first fight of the year for Watkins, who is then looking to face either British champion Matty Askin, or Olympic gold medallist Lawrence Okolie.

Despite being unable to get into the ring at the weekend, Watkins says he is in the best shape of his career so far, technically, physically and mentally.

The 28-year-old says he is a firm believer that boxing is a psychological as much as it is a physical sport and believes that reading has allowed him to become mentally strong.

“Paddy has said I’m in the shape of my life and he means on the mental side of things as well,” he said.

“You can always get your body in physical condition, but I think a lot of people struggle with the mental side of things in boxing.

“Not everyone does, but there are a few. There has been a lot of mental growth in the last six months.

“It was only the other day I was talking to Paddy and Ryan Martin, reflecting, and it made me realise that I never stop.

“I think it’s a natural progression. I spend a lot of time reading self-help books, just because I enjoy the psychological side of things.

“If I can understand my own brain, I think it gives me an advantage. Paddy didn’t mention it to me or anything, I just enjoy reading and I read almost every day.”

As the Commonwealth champion, Watkins admits there are plenty of options for him to consider over the coming months.

Askin, who holds the British title, remains top of Duke’s wish list but the Swindon fighter says he is willing to fight anyone as long as the bout makes sense.

“We have a few things in the pipeline, we are discussing things with a few people and what we do next will be based on what makes the best sense for myself,” he added.

“Obviously, at this moment in time Askin is the British champion, so I would definitely want him next but it more about is what makes sense.”