PLANS are in place for Luke ‘Duke’ Watkins to go toe-to-toe with British cruiserweight ninth seed Mikael Lawal in Swindon next February.

Talks for the pair to clash on one of Mark Neilson’s Fight Town cards first opened in September.

It’s expected that the bout will be an eliminator for British title following Lawrence Okolie’s decision to vacate the belt he first earned against Matty Askin at London’s Wembley Stadium in September 2018.

Watkins’ coach Paddy Fitzpatrick is in regular conversation with Lawal’s manager, while promoter Neilson confirmed on Saturday that he has the financial capability to place a sizeable bid to bring both men together.

Prior to the confirmation of the proposed fight, Watkins must first defeat inconsistent Erik Nazaryan at the Oasis Leisure Centre on Saturday, November 30 – the third instalment of Neilson’s Fight Town series.

Despite many – if not all – fans expecting Watkins to defeat his 5’10” opponent later this month, Fitzpatrick made no secret of the fact that his star cruiserweight is taking a risk by facing Nazaryan weeks before a possible British title eliminator.

He added: “This is a fight that Duke is supposed to win. But it’s also a fight where you take a risk by taking it on – he could lose his opportunity to fight for a British title eliminator.

“Duke has been wanting to fight at home for a couple of years, he’s been away for two years. When I asked him if he wanted to take the risk, he said to me he wanted to fight in front of his home fans.

“They follow him everywhere and support him everywhere. We’re supposed to win it, but we can’t afford mistakes.”

From Neilson’s point of view, his decision to host the Fight Town series at the Oasis Leisure Centre – a venue substantially bigger than previous facilities – has ultimately generated revenue sufficient to launch greater bids to attract boxing’s bigger names to Swindon.

Quietly confident that Watkins’ bout against Lawal will receive the green light, Neilson underlined his belief that shows being put on in conjunction with Fitzpatrick are proving the pick of the country’s non-broadcasted fights.

“We’ve moved on from the smaller capacity sports halls, we can now accommodate for a couple of thousand fans – that generates a lot of revenue which allows us to bring these big fights to Swindon,” said Neilson.

“We’re moving up levels, so when you start talking about fighters in the top 10 there are bigger costs.

“We’re confident (that Watkins v Lawal will go ahead), I’ve got a budget for the show and I believe we can make the numbers work. And we’re confident that fight will be in Swindon.

“Only the top three or four promoters have money from TV. We’re one of the biggest promoters out there without the TV money.

“We have the financial capability to compete. If we get outbid then that’s great for Duke, he can fight someone for a lot more money.

“But we’re in a position to bid for these kind of fights.”