PADDY FITZPATRICK believes Luke Watkins can help him rebuild a reputation undermined by George Groves.
The 27-year-old Watkins has been trained and managed by Fitzpatrick for the past nine years.
Despite a career spent working with some of the finest fighters in America and others in Europe, Ireland’s Fitzpatrick is best known in British boxing for his more recent spell with Groves.
With him, the super-middleweight produced perhaps the finest performance of his career in a controversial defeat by Carl Froch in 2013 before losing two of the following four fights until their parting of ways.
Groves has since trained with Shane McGuigan, most recently winning the WBA title against Fedor Chudinov and each of his previous four fights, while also frequently criticising Fitzpatrick’s professionalism.
The 47-year-old Fitzpatrick insists he made sacrifices that included missing his youngest son’s birth to remain loyal to Groves, but despite his disappointment at the fighter’s attitude, is confident of proving himself again with ‘Duke’ Watkins.
“I worked with Michael Moorer for one fight, I worked with James (Toney) when I was with Freddie (Roach) for two years, I worked with Lamon Brewster, Michael Grant,” Fitzpatrick told Press Association Sport.
“They were all world-class, or world champions. Michael Moorer understood distance beautifully; James, complete composure, when you think about raw power, Lamon could hit like a train with that hook.
“All these guys had different attributes, and Duke has got those as a cruiserweight. He’s very, very physically strong, a powerful puncher, yet to turn into a power puncher, but it’s coming more and more, has beautiful balance, can box like a middleweight when he wants, has a superb jab.
“There isn’t anything he’s missing; every question that’s been asked, he’s answered.
“He’s what I’ve grown from scratch. He’ll be the first black Irish champion, I believe; I wanted to get in there quick.
“I’ve wanted to grow my own seeds; this is nine years down the road with Duke, and we’re at the beginning.
“I would say that with confidence (that he will win a world title).”
Watkins’ potential emergence also comes at a time when the British cruiserweight division has promise, and when worldwide it is the strongest it has been since David Haye last reigned there, in 2008.
“Duke never had a pair of gloves on before he met me, has been with me from scratch the whole way through. I’ve trained him from scratch, managed him from scratch, so that’s how you’d judge me. He trusts me,” Fitzpatrick said.