LUKE Watkins is hoping to continue his rise to the top by successfully defending his Commonwealth title tonight.

The unbeaten cruiserweight puts his crown on the line against former British title challenger Mike Stafford at the Leicester Arena, with the fight also being shown live on Five Spike.

Having turned professional in September 2014, making his debut at Wembley Arena, former New College student Watkins is looking forward to what the future holds.

Rising cruiserweight prospect Isaac Chamberlain has been calling for a fight with Watkins since he won the belt in September, and while the 28-year-old says he would consider it if the right offer came along, he admits that there are bigger fish to fry.

“Why would I prefer Chamberlain over Matty Askin? Askin has got the British (title). I definitely want to unify as oppose to just defending, I would much prefer a unification,” Watkins told the Advertiser.

“I’m going to enjoy Saturday. I’m going to enjoy what I do and only then can I look forward to the new year and see what offers are there and see what we can offer people.

“It is all good these fighters saying it, it is just a matter of picking up the phone and making us an offer, this is a business.

“If you make us a legitimate offer, we will consider it and evaluate.”

While 2017 has been a breakout year for the Paddy Fitzpatrick protégé - Watkins also won the Irish cruiserweight title in June - the success in the ring has been tempered by the loss of two close friends in Ben Marks and James Baker.

“Considering I didn’t have a massive amateur background, the fact that I was able to win the Irish title and the Commonwealth title, I can’t express it with words, it means a lot to me,” Watkins said “To be able to do it in front of the people of Swindon and in front of my family means a great deal.

“In my career, 2017 has been a great year. Out of the ring, it has been a bit different.

“Everyone has their own things that they are dealing with in life, so it makes the little things, the finer things, sweeter.

“I lost a couple of friends in the last year, two of my closest friends. We are young and we have got our whole lives in front of us.

“They were both 26. One was my biggest supporter and the other followed closely behind.

“It didn’t really affect the fighting side for me too much because knowing them, they would be like ‘get yourself together, you’ve got stuff to do’.

“But outside, it just creeps up on you every now and again. It side swipes you and you feel down and upset.

“I’m blessed that they were my friends, I’m blessed that I had them in my life for the time that I did instead of never having them.”