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April 22, 2015


[NEF Press Release]

Lewiston, Maine (April 21, 2015) – New England Fights (NEF), America's number-one regional fight promotion, will hold its eighteenth mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event, "NEF XVIII: Made in America," on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.   Earlier today, the promotion announced that NEF MMA Professional Lightweight Champion Bruce "Pretty Boy" Boyington (10-8) will meet John "First Class" Raio (2-7) on the card in a non-title bout at a weight of 150-pounds.

Boyington and Raio first met in February 2014 at "NEF XII" in Lewiston.  Boyington dominated the early moments with his striking.  Coming towards the end of the first round, Raio would take Boyington's back and apply a rear-naked choke on the mat.  The future lightweight champion waved his hand in the air, a signal which referee Jimmy Bickford took to indicate Boyington's submission.  Bickford stopped the bout and awarded the fight to Raio, drawing an immediate protest from Boyington who stated he was waving to his fans in the crowd as a sign that he was not in danger.

In the days that followed, a heated debate would rage on social media over the controversial finish to the fight.  Both fighters, boasting arguably the two largest fan bases in all of New England, were at the center of an epic war of words between their respective supporters.  It seemed as though everyone had an opinion, and the entire state of Maine was split.

"Things were crazy that week after the bout," recalled NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo.  "Our Facebook page was flooded with comments and private messages.  Everybody and their mother was weighing in.  It's probably the most controversial moment in NEF history.  Fans have been asking us for over a year when the rematch would happen.  The time has finally come, June 13 in Lewiston!"

Boyington would go on to have a highly successful finish to 2014, winning not one but two regional MMA titles, including the NEF MMA Professional Lightweight Championship.  He would also win his professional boxing debut at NEF's inaugural boxing event in October 2014.  Boyington has, in fact, won four of his last five since the Raio loss.

“This fight is solely about redemption and giving the fans what they have been wanting to see,” stated Boyington when reached for comment. “Sometimes you have to step outside of what is best for you in this sport and entertain and that's what I'm doing.  I like a challenge—the biggest challenge—and that time will come, but for now, its about showing people what was about to happen last time and I can still show I'm three-levels above him by making the statement I'm about to embark on.  I'm done with mishaps in that cage.  I'm seizing every opportunity and will not let something slip again.  Mark my words, its about to get real in my fight.”
Raio is coming off two losses in a row to his archrival, Derek Shorey (2-1), including one defeat earlier this month at "NEF XVII."  In need of a win, the founder of First Class MMA may now be more determined than ever to return to the NEF cage.

“I know this is a fight that I want, Bruce wants, and a lot of MMA fans have asked for,” stated Raio when reached for comment. “I look forward to fighting Bruce. Hopefully when the fight is over, there will be no controversy.”

NEF's next MMA event, "NEF XVIII: Made in America" will originate from the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine on June 13, 2015.  Tickets for "NEF XVIII" start at just $25 and are on sale now at 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 In addition, you can watch NEF videos at, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”