COMMONWEALTH cruiserweight champion Luke Watkins has his eyes on taking the British belt in 2018 but is happy to focus on staying in shape while the necessary match-ups are made.

‘The Duke’ successfully defended his Commonwealth belt at Leicester Arena on Saturday night as opponent Mike Stafford retired at the end of the eighth round of their bruising battle.

It took the 28-year-old’s pro record to 13 straight wins, 10 of which have come inside the distance and rounded off a hectic year for the Swindon man, whose four fights have included three with titles on the line.

Watkins plans some time away from the ring with Christmas approaching but has already laid out some goals for the next 12 months as his career progresses under the tutelage of Ferndale Road-based trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick.

“It’s been hectic but good,’’ he told the Swindon Advertiser.

“Sometimes you can sit down and not get enough done. I feel like we moved at quite a fast pace but it was something that was controllable and something that I was more than able to cope with.

“It’s been such a busy year, I’m most probably going to take a few weeks out of the boxing gym.

“I’ll most probably still be in the weights gym and keep my conditioning and strength up and as the new year approaches we’ll start planning for that.’’ With the Commonwealth title already in his possession, Watkins is keen on upgrading to a Lonsdale belt next year and hopes the British crown becomes the focus.

“I want to fight for and win the British title,’’ he added. “Paddy’s the man to ask for that. I’m not the driver when it comes to that, I’m the fighter.

“He’s the manager and my coach and he’ll deal with everything like that.

“I think I’m ranked third in Britain so I’m very much in that mix.

“As much as I’m targeting them (his cruiserweight division rivals), I’m sure there are people out there targeting me so we’ll get down to business.’’ Veteran Stafford proved a tough customer on Saturday night, Watkins finally wearing down his man and forcing a facial cut before the Southport fighter’s corner called a halt.

“I think I heard him say he hadn’t been stopped and it’s the first time he felt he was in a position to be stopped, or a stoppage to be forced obviously because of the cut as well,,’’ added Watkins.

“I don’t really rate myself on a scale of one to 10.

“There’s things I did see that I can definitely improve on and that me and my coach can see that I can improve on so that’s more of a concern, as opposed to a rating of the fight.’’