LEWISTON — A grudge-match professional main event. Three amateur title fights. Local storylines aplenty.

Saturday promises to be a hot summer night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee, where New England Fights XVIII has the makings of one of the most explosive mixed martial arts fight nights yet at the venerable arena. Bell time is 7 p.m.

The feature attraction is a non-title rematch between NEF pro lightweight champion Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington (10-8) and John “First Class” Raio (2-7).

One of those two Raio triumphs was a controversial first-round submission victory over Boyington in February 2014. Boyington dominated the early stages with his striking before Raio caught him in a rear naked choke near the conclusion of the round.

Referee Jimmy Bickford interpreted a movement of Boyington’s arm as a tap and called a halt to the proceedings. Boyington contended that he was simply waving to his fans that he wasn’t in any danger.

The two exchanged barbs on social media and promoter Matt Peterson’s webcast leading up to the fight, fueling the anticipation from each man’s rabid fan base.


“I know this is a fight that I want, Bruce wants, and a lot of MMA fans have asked for,” Raio, who comes into the bout off consecutive losses to Derek Shorey, said in a press release. “I look forward to fighting Bruce. Hopefully when the fight is over, there will be no controversy.”

Boyington used the disappointing defeat as the impetus for a four-fight winning streak, one that ended with a non-title submission loss to Jamie Harrison two months ago.

“This fight is solely about redemption and giving the fans what they have been wanting to see,” Boyington said. “Sometimes you have to step outside of what is best for you in this sport and entertain, and that’s what I’m doing. For now, it’s about showing people what was about to happen last time, and I can still show I’m three levels above him.”

Eight of the 20 bouts on the card involve fighters with tri-county connections, including two of the three showdowns with NEF’s first-ever amateur title belts at stake.

Ryan Glover (1-0) of Mexico will battle Billy “Bigfoot” Leahy (2-1) of Paris for the heavyweight strap. Each is a former high school football star and Maine high school wrestling champion.

Glover fights out of the upstart Berserkers MMA gym. Stablemates Mike “The Mustache” Hansen and Dave Smith also are on the fight docket Saturday.


“It’s time to bring the title back to Rumford,” Glover said. “As a new team, it will be a huge statement on where our team is going, and how far we’ve come already.”

Each fighter has been dominant in recent action. Leahy owns back-to-back wins in the NEF cage after dropping his debut in Massachusetts. Glover knocked out Michael Freeman with one punch in 12 seconds his first time out.

“I’m very excited about the fight, as this is a huge opportunity for a young fighter like myself,” Leahy said. “It’s going to be a war. Two Maine state wrestling champions fighting for a title in the NEF cage. I’m beyond motivated and excited for this fight.”

Smith squares off with Gravin Guillen of Massachusetts in a super heavyweight bout that lives up to the label. The two fighters tipped the scales Friday at 287.3 and 286.4 pounds, respectively.

Hansen (2-1), a U.S. Army veteran who recently returned to MMA after a 10-year layoff, takes on Cody Anderson in a light heavyweight clash. It will be the first of five pro bouts to close out the night.

“I’m pumped to be have an opponent like Cody,” Hansen said. “He is a real tough guy, and this should be a great battle.”


In the other two amateur title fights, Dustin Veinott (3-3) of Auburn confronts Norman “Sleepy” Fox (4-1) for flyweight supremacy, and Ricky Dexter (3-0) faces Josh Harvey (3-1) for lightweight honors.

Veinott lost to Fox in Biddeford in what was the cage debut for both. Veinott enters the rematch on a three-fight winning streak after losing his first three out of the gate.

“This is going to be a very entertaining fight,” Veinott predicted. “Don’t blink, because this fight will not go the distance. (One of us) will be finished during the fight. So expect a high-action fight between two guys that are at the top of their game right now.”

Auburn middleweight Jesse “The Viking” Erickson (4-4) fights Zenon Herrera of Skowhegan, who is making his pro debut.

Erickson rebounded from two unsuccessful title fights against Boyington with a first-round stoppage of Mark DeFord in April.

“After back to back losses, I’ve really focused in on some of my weak points. In my last fight, I felt much more confident and relaxed, and I think it showed in my performance,” Erickson said. “I will continue to get better and show everyone the fighter I’ve always known I could be. I’ll never fight safe, try to eke out a decision, or have a boring fight.”


In an intriguing, crossroads amateur matchup at a catch weight of 160 pounds, Dr. Steven Bang (1-0), a bariatric surgeon from Auburn, will battle Maine wrestling hall of famer and educator Pat Kelly (2-0) of Rockport.

Bang, 45, will try to avenge family honor against Kelly, 50. The Camden Hills Regional High School coach defeated one of Bang’s sons, also named Steven, in a recent meeting.

“I see myself as already being down 0-1. (This) is about redemption and showing the boys how it’s done,” Bang said. “This will be one for the record books. Together, Pat and I bring over 95 years of life experience to the cage. We bring the fights to a different level because of all that we have at stake.”

Corey Hinkley (2-3) of Auburn is paired with Cory Trial in a middleweight amateur scrap. Nick Gulliver of Jay makes his heavyweight debut against Sonny Ora Spratt.

Tickets are still available by calling the Colisee box office at 783-2009, ext. 525.

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