Fairfield heavyweight Justin “Crazy Train” Rolfe has gotten a taste of boxing’s big time, having fought on the undercard of a world championship bout featuring the legendary Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas last August.
He lost that nationally televised fight, but it left the former New England heavyweight champion longing for more. His comeback starts Saturday night in Derry, New Hampshire.
Rolfe, 6-3-1 with four knockouts, will face Mexican journeyman Fabian “El Lobo” Valdez in a scheduled eight-round bout as part of the Granite State Slugfest scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at the New England Sports Center.
“I feel like I’m going to be in the best shape yet,” Rolfe said. “I’m definitely going out there with the mindset of making a statement and showing everybody that I’m back and improved and hoping to show people that we’re ready to be out there.”
Rolfe is coming off a first-round loss by technical knockout to undefeated Steven Torres at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 21 despite never being knocked down. He entered that match, which was his first outside of New England, coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Jose Corral in June to capture the American Boxing Federation Atlantic heavyweight title.
Rolfe sought to work inside against the 6-foot-7-inch Torres – who brought an 8-inch height advantage and an 11-inch reach advantage into the ring – during the opening minutes of the fight and landed several left hooks. Torres picked up the pace midway through the three-minute opening round and landed a succession of right hands to the body and head as Rolfe focused on defense until referee Robert Hoyle stopped the fight with 27 seconds left.
“I learned that you can’t rely on a lot of defense when you’re on the big stage against these guys,” Rolfe said. “For this fight we’ve been focused a lot more on offense and changing angles and using offense as defense and not necessarily covering up and catching punches.
“We’ve taken a lot from that fight and we’ve intensified the training, we’ve intensified the sparring and I’m really hoping that after this fight we’ll have a chance to get back out there on a big stage.”
Rolfe suggested that a win over Valdez could pave the way for more frequent fights as COVID-19 protocols are being relaxed around the country.
“It’s actually getting back to normal now,” said Rolfe, who also keeps busy training amateur fighters out of his Waterville boxing club. “There’s a lot of fights that have been scheduled and it looks like it’s going to be pretty straight forward from here on.
“I just want to see how far I can go and I won’t settle until that happens.”
The Rolfe-Valdez matchup is one of seven fights on the Slugfest card organized by Rolfe’s promoter, Chris Traietti of Quincy, Massachusetts.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Nicholas “Saint Nick” Molina (7-0) will face “Outlaw” Ryan Venable in the six-round main event.