In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when he couldn’t work out with his trainer Mike Leary, Justin Rolfe worked out on his own. With nobody to spar, Rolfe ran and worked out his cardiovascular fitness.

Now, finally with a fight on the schedule, Rolfe is ready. That the fight is for a New England title makes the long solitary workouts Rolfe underwent even more meaningful.

Rolfe is scheduled to fight Tracey Johnson on August 29 at the Sports Zone in Derry, New Hampshire. At stake is the vacant USA New England Heavyweight title.

“I’m pretty pumped up now. This is an opportunity I didn’t expect yet,” Rolfe said. “I can honestly say this is the best shape I’ve been in.”

This fight will be a rematch of Rolfe’s last bout. Rolfe and Johnson fought to a draw in a six-round fight on November 27 of last year in Quincy, Massachusetts. The rematch is the headline fight of the August 29 card, Leary said, and is scheduled for eight rounds.

“That fight was closer than it should have been,” Rolfe, 28, said. “A lot of people there were really upset at the decision.”


Since turning pro in 2018, Rolfe has three wins, one loss, and the draw in the first Johnson fight. Rolfe has turned some heads in the New England fight world, Leary said, and could use the upcoming match as a springboard to bigger fights.

“He’s worked hard for this. He’s done well in New England. They know him in New England, and this is his chance at a title shot,” Leary said. “If we can win this title, it’s our bargaining chip.”

Even before his training was disrupted by the pandemic, Rolfe focused his workouts on improving his stamina. Recently, Rolfe has had sparring sessions with Steve Vukosa. A veteran fighter, Vukosa handed Rolfe his only pro loss to date, in his second pro fight. Vukosa has since become a mentor to Rolfe. Sparring with Vukosa is a help going into the first eight round fight of his career, Rolfe said.

“I go 10 rounds with (Vukosa). I feel very comfortable going into this fight,” Rolfe said.

Rolfe and Leary have been able to meet for training sessions for two and a half months, Leary said. The focus has been fighting smarter.

“With Justin, he does a lot of his own work at home. Now it’s a matter of cardio,” Leary said. “He’s got to spend less time throwing punches and more time throwing punches that matter.”


In the first fight against Johnson, Rolfe threw and landed a lot of punches, Leary said, but many of those were superficial.

“He wasted a lot of punches. He needs to be more efficient,” Leary said.

As far as adhering to Covid-19 guidelines, Leary said he’s not sure if Rolfe or he will need to take a coronavirus test before the fight, but they will have their temperature taken, and will be escorted in and out of the building by security. Any fans in attendance will be required to wear a mask, Leary said.

Rolfe and Leary both say this is the best fight camp they’ve had together. Rolfe is confident.

“(Johnson) lived on the ropes last time. You know what? You’re not going to outwork me. If he’s going to beat me, he’s going to outwork me,” Rolfe said. “If I can do this, I can bring the New England title back to Maine.”


Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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