SKOWHEGAN — Casey Kramlich doesn’t know exactly how Justin Rolfe and Isaac Parker feel, but he has a pretty good idea. Before his first fight, Kramlich tried to eat a bowl of pasta. He was nervous, the food was just decorative.

“I wanted to just eat something before, and I couldn’t even eat it. I was 12 years old. I was so nervous,” Kramlich said. “I got in there. The kid came flying out. I kept my composure. I blocked all this punches. He lost his energy, and in the second round I had him in the corner. I pounded him and the ref stopped it.”

Now, 26-year old Kramlich is a boxing veteran. When he steps in the ring at the Skowhegan Community Center on April 28, it will be Kramlich’s 11th professional fight. Also on the card that night will be Justin Rolfe, 26, of Fairfield, making his pro debut. Making his amateur debut will be 16-year old Isaac Parker, a Lawrence High School junior. Both Rolfe and Parker spoke in Skowhegan Thursday night, at a press conference organized by Brandon Berry. A pro fighter from West Forks, Berry is promoting the April 28th fights.

Almost five years ago, in May 2013, Berry made his pro boxing debut in a fight at Skowhegan Area High School. Berry remembered all the support he received, the bleachers full of family, friends, and people who just wanted to see the local kid do well. He’s delighted to give that same opportunity to Rolfe and Parker.

“I’m excited for Justin. World champions sometimes don’t ever get to fight in their hometown. They’ll fight 50 or 60 fights and never fight close to home. I know it was special for me, and it will be very special for him. There’s been a lot of talk about his fight. A lot of tickets sold in his name. I’m excited for Justin. He’s a good kid and he deserves it,” Berry said. “It’s unheard of, the amount of tickets this kid (Parker) has sold. There’s so much buzz. I’m excited for him, too. He’s local. He’s 20 minutes away. I hope it’s something he falls right in love with and he can just continue to do this.”

If Rolfe or Parker are nervous now, two weeks from their fights, they aren’t letting on.

“This means more to me than I can even explain. This is the chance that I’ve been waiting for,” Rolfe, a barrel-chested heavyweight, said. “I’ve been in the boxing game for about six years now. I’ve been working hard for this, and on the 28th, I’m hoping to show everybody some good boxing with a lot of talent and a lot of aggression.”

Parker grew up watching his father, Josh Parker, fight and train in mixed martial arts and boxing.

“I’m excited more than anything,” Parker, who fights at 150-pounds, said. “I grew up in it. I was going to the gym when I was 6 years old, sleeping out there while he did his morning training. I’ve been in it since I was real young.”

As Rolfe enjoyed more and more success as an amateur, winning two Northern New England Golden Gloves titles and one New England Golden Gloves belt, fights became harder and harder to find. Rolfe would show up at an event, ready to go, only to learn his opponent backed out at the last minute. When you win with the ferocity Rolfe exhibits in the ring, that tends to happen, Mike Leary, Rolfe’s trainer for the last year, said. Rolfe’s opponent will be Michael Hansen of Rumford. A longtime MMA fighter, this will be Hansen’s first boxing match. Rolfe isn’t nervous, nor does he expect to be on fight night.

“I’m going to be comfortable. It’s my home. In a boxing ring, I feel at peace,” Rolfe said. “I took my time and I got the experience I could. I felt like this is the time. I’m 26 years old now. I know my way around a boxing ring. It’s time to do it. So here I am. On April 28th I get to show everybody what I’ve worked so hard for.”

Berry sees promoting these fights as a way to give back to his sport. He’s also prepping to fight that night as one of the main events, but he’s excited for Rolfe and Parker, too.

“I’m not ready to say I’m passing the torch or anything like that. But listen, I’ve only got a few years left. These are the types of guys that are going to be here for a while. It’s nice to think the sport is going to be in good hands,” Berry said.

Kramlich has simple advice for the fighters making their debuts.

“Just give it your all. Give it your best shot,” Kramlich said.

Any nerves, they’ll take care of themselves when you cross the ropes.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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