When New England Fights Mixed Martial Arts (NEF MMA) returns to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on February 8, it will feature a bout between popular featherweight professional fighters Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington (5-6) and John “First Class” Raio (1-4). Boyington and Raio are known for having two of the largest, most-passionate fan followings in the northeast.
“It’s hard not to be a fan of Bruce and John,” said NEF MMA co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson. “Besides putting on some of the most exciting fights and memorable moments in the NEF cage, both are great guys and family men who have raised wonderful kids. There are a lot of fans who are going to have a tough time choosing sides next week.”
Recently, Boyington took to Facebook to call out Rhode Island featherweight Joe Pingitore (4-0-1). The Boyington-Pingitore feud started months ago when Boyington’s teammate, Maine State MMA Featherweight Champion Ray Wood (4-0), signed to face Pingitore at “NEF X” in September 2013. The bout was called off after Wood was injured, but during the pre-fight hype things got quite heated between Boyington and Pingitore. The two exchanged Facebook messages publicly, leading many fans to speculate that they would one day see the two athletes meet in the NEF MMA cage. Boyington re-ignited that rivalry on January 27 with another post directed at NEF MMA executives:
“I’m wondering when I am worthy of fighting Joe Pingitore?”
Innocent at first glance, the question sparked some debate amongst fans over whether Boyington was overlooking his upcoming bout at “NEF XII” with John Raio which was, at the time, only a week-and-a-half away. Raio, despite what his record might indicate, is a dangerous opponent for anyone. The 36-year old former Maine high school wrestling champion’s losses have all come to tough competitors, some over a decade his junior, taking Vince Murdock (2-1) deep into the third round in Bellator last spring, and even pushing Ray Wood into a second round. There was also some speculation over whether Boyington intended to disrespect Raio by overlooking their upcoming fight to focus on a potential future bout with Pingitore.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” responded Boyington when reached for comment. “I have all the respect in the world for John Raio and what he’s done in this sport. I’m taking this bout very seriously. I’m training harder than ever before, and I feel better than ever before. That being said, I haven’t forgotten about Joe Pingitore and that little dispute we had last summer. It’s still in the back of my mind, and I wanted to make it clear to him that I haven’t forgot about him. Winning three of my last four, I can’t help but think about the future. I want gold around my waist. I want one of those Maine state titles, and I’m not going to rest until I get it! If I have to go through John Raio and then Joe Pingitore to get it, then so be it.”
“NEF XII,” is scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine with a bell time of 7:00 pm. In the main event, Maine MMA legend Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-10) faces his former student “THE” Ryan Sanders (5-4) in a much-anticipated welterweight contest. In addition, Maine State MMA Middleweight Champion Jesse Peterson (7-4) will return to action for the first time in nearly a year to defend his title against “Ruthless” Mike Zichelle (6-3). Tickets for “NEF XII” start at just $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com or by calling The Colisee box office at 207.783.2009 x 525. For more information on the event and fight card updates, please visit the promotion’s website at www.NewEnglandFights.com. In addition, you can watch NEF MMA videos at www.youtube.com/NEFMMA, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”