LUKE Watkins' proposed cruiserweight showdown with Belfast rival Tommy McCarthy has moved closer after the British Boxing Board of Control confirmed they would sanction the fight as an official British title eliminator.

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.

Swindon boxer Watkins' Ferndale Road gym trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick revealed last week that he had spoken to Hearn about the possibility of staging the contest, which had aroused plenty of interest on social media.

“Both men are highly ranked by BoxRec(.com) and they are both good fighters,'' said Fitzpatrick.

“Obviously I think Duke will win the fight and they are thinking that Tommy McCarthy will win it.

“Lots of people seem interested in it - both fans and people in boxing - so I just hope we can get it done.''

The 27-year-old former New College student claimed the Irish title in June, stopping former champion Ian Tims in the fourth round, but was ruled as being unable to defend that belt against McCarthy due to new Boxing Union of Ireland rules which prohibit the Belfast man from fighting for the belt because he does not hold an Irish boxing licence.

However, the British Board revealed yesterday that they will sanction the fight as an official eliminator for the British title, currently held by Matty Askin and ordered purse bids.

McCarthy last fought last November, when he lost a British title final eliminator to Askin, who subsequently stopped Craig Kennedy to win the domestic belt. Askin defends his title against Scotland’s Stephen Simmons on October 6.

With that being a voluntary defence, the door is open for the winner of the Watkins-McCarthy contest to become mandatory challenger to the victory in the Askin-Simmons match-up.