Boxing has always been a big business for Justin Rolfe, dating back to his days as an amateur contender for the New England Golden Gloves title. Now in his third year as a pro, the birth of his son has made Rolfe take the sport even more seriously.
“I was lucky to have a very easy baby. He’s on a schedule. He sleeps all night. I’m lucky, ”Rolfe said of his 6 month old son. “I have a child now. I have something more to defend. When I have other reasons, people to fight for, I fight better. I am fighting for my son and his future. I don’t want him to have to be punched in the head for a living. I think I can do it.
Rolfe, 29, of Fairfield, will take another career milestone on Saturday night at the SportsZone in Derry, New Hampshire, when he takes on Jose Humberto Corral for the vacant Atlantic American Boxing Federation heavyweight title.
“He’s a little more mature. He’s a little more serious now. Fatherhood will do it to you, ”said Mike Leary, Rolfe’s coach.
The opportunity to fight for the ABF Atlantic belt arose when Rolfe and Leary met ABF President Jeremy Lantz in a weigh-in for Rolfe’s fight against Alfredo Trevino on April 17. When Rolfe asked Lantz for a title fight, Lantz told him to look good against Trevino.
Two days after Rolfe knocked out Trevino just 20 seconds into the fight – including the 10 seconds it took for the count – Lantz offered Rolfe the chance to fight for the vacant belt. The victory improved Rolfe’s professional record to 5-2-1.
“(Rolfe) needs to create a buzz around him, and that’s how you do it. He hit (Trevino) five times. Three landed and the third was a left hook that just dumped the guy. If you get the buzz, you get the title belt. If you get the title belt then you get the money, ”Leary said.
At Corral (20-26), Rolfe faces a veteran opponent, but also a fighter who has not been in the ring for almost two years. Corral’s last fight came on October 26, 2019, a loss to Brandon Glanton when Corral refused to appear in the fourth round. Corral has lost seven of its last eight fights.
“Any boxer knows what it’s like to get out of this for a while. I’m going to start fast, start early and hopefully catch him cold and not let him warm up. With my style, I like to go there and not let you understand. I don’t like letting you take it out on me, Rolfe said.
Leary added, “We’re not going to take anyone lightly, but we’re pretty confident, especially after Justin’s last performance.”
An addition to Rolfe’s corner team is Jerry Thompson. A longtime figure in central Maine boxing, Thompson promoted fights in the Waterville area in the 1970s and 80s. Leary said he considered Thompson one of his mentors. It had been a long time since Thompson worked with a fighter, but he was drawn to Rolfe’s talent and drive.
“Justin works really hard. Mike really did a good job with him, ”said Thompson.
Over the past year, Rolfe has focused much of his training on cardio workouts. When he couldn’t get into the gym at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, running was an achievable workout. These days, Rolfe complements his sparring sessions with sprint workouts on the Colby College track. His feet and hands are faster now, said Rolfe, adding an extra dimension to the power play he’s always used in the ring.
“This kid is a hard worker. What I love about (Rolfe) is that everything we do is chat. “Do you think I need to lose weight?” Yeah, you can cut it down a bit and here’s how we might do it. And he does. This is how you do it, man. We work as a team, ”said Leary.
Saturday’s fight is Rolfe’s second experience with a title shot. Last August, Rolfe won the United States heavyweight title in New England, beating Tracey Johnson unanimously. Rolfe lost the belt in his next fight, a unanimous decision loss to Mike Marshall.
“I feel a lot more relaxed before this fight. Having experience, I am much more comfortable and confident in my abilities. I can’t help but feel confident for this fight, ”said Rolfe. “I’m excited to step out in front of everyone again, show my abilities and hopefully open more doors. I want to make another statement and win a title fight.
“I can’t promise you wins and knockouts and all that, but I can promise you it’s always going to be an entertaining fight.”
Travis Lazarczyk – 861-9242
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