ATTEMPTING to follow in the footsteps of a parent can often be a fraught business. Just ask Jordi Cruyff or Diego Maradona Jr.

That prospect never fazed Martin Harkin, however. Instead the Dumbarton boxer willingly gravitated towards it.

Robert Harkin never made it to the top of his sport but he had his moments in a colourful career throughout the 1980s that included challenging for the British and Commonwealth titles, the latter in Australia.

Retired but still training by the time Martin was old enough to be aware of what was going on, there was never any pressure from Robert to push his son down the same route.

Instead, hearing stories about his dad’s career and watching old tapes of him in action sparked an almost innate urge inside Martin to pull on the gloves. Thirteen undefeated professional fights later, it looks an astute decision.

“My dad’s influence has been massive throughout my career,” said the St Andrew’s Sporting Club boxer. “A lot of fighters just fall into boxing as something to try but for me it was learned behaviour. I had it instilled in me from an early age.

“Watching my dad going to the gym and old tapes of his fights was something I did and I’ve just followed in his footsteps. I was born into boxing in a way.

“He never forced me into it as boxing is not for everyone. It’s a dangerous sport. But he told me that if I wanted to get into it he would support me all the way. And he’s shared so many of his experiences and given me tips since I’ve been eight years old.

“He understands what I’m going through and can relate to it. And it’s the same for my trainer [Danny Lee] as his dad was a pro as well. We all know the emotions and feelings that boxers go through and how hard they have to work to be successful.

“I want to get to the same levels that my dad got to. He didn’t win either of those titles but just to get to that level back in the 1980s was some achievement.”

Victory in his next fight would propel Harkin a lot closer to emulating his father. While other British boxers have shied away from stepping into the ring with dangerous welterweight prospect Michael McKinson – ranked eighth in the world by the WBO – Harkin has seized the opportunity willingly.

Now 28 and aware that it may be some time before professional boxing returns to Scotland, the Greenock-based fighter sees little point in hanging around for the perfect opportunity.

“From what I’ve seen he’s a good fighter,” said Harkin of his 18-0 opponent. “He’s ranked third in Britain and is also highly ranked with the WBO. But when I got the offer of the fight I took it right away. I can’t see there being any shows up here for a while so I’d rather be kept busy if I can. I’ve been out of the ring long enough.

“I understand why people fight journeymen early on when you’re trying to learn the pro style. But once you get to 7-0 or 8-0 on your record you need to be taking 50:50 fights. That’s my attitude anyway. You need to test yourself to see how far you can go.

“A lot of Scottish fighters look to keep the ‘0’ on their record [staying unbeaten] but that’s never meant anything to me. I had around 70 amateur fights and lost maybe 30 of them. But I fought at the top level against the toughest opponents. That’s just my attitude to it all.

“I’m ranked 11th in the British rankings in a competitive division. If I go in there and beat him it opens up a lot of doors for me.”

Today’s fight in South Kirkby, Yorkshire, is Harkin’s first outside Scotland and he is determined not to leave the outcome to others.

“I’m going in there with the mentality to finish the fight and not leave it in the judges’ hands. You’re always up against it in the away corner but if you never take that risk then you’ll never get that reward.”

Harkin will be without his usual army of fans for the closed-doors event but revealed his dad will be there regardless as always.

“He’s going to come down and wait outside the arena. I can just imagine him trying to peek through a window to see what’s happening! But it’s great that he’ll be there waiting for me as soon as the fight is over.”