BANGOR, Maine — Bruce Boyington’s first 15 minutes of mixed martial arts fame lasted just 10 seconds.
That’s all it took for the Brewer resident to land two devastating spinning leg kicks and knock out Keegan Hornstra in the first round of their lightweight bout during Fight Night III on June 16 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
So stunning was the victory that footage from the bout quickly became a fan favorite on YouTube, with two different versions of the action generating nearly a quarter-million views — including one originally shown on AXS-TV’s “Inside MMA” that has become one of that network’s most watched videos.
“It’s been kind of surreal,” said the 33-year-old Boyington, a 1998 graduate of Old Town High School. “Being from a small town trying to make a name for myself in MMA, the stars just lined up, the right people happened to be there that night, and it kind of took off. It’s been a blessing.”
The video also has gotten Boyington considerable attention on various MMA websites, as well as some new sponsors.
And perhaps most importantly related to his career path in the sport, that victory has earned him a berth in New England Fights’ four-man tournament to crown the promotion’s first 155-pound champion.
Boyington, who trains out of Young’s MMA on outer Hammond Street in Bangor, will take on Tony Woodman of Havoc MMA in Sanford while Jamie Harrison of First Coast Full Contact in Orange Park, Fla., will challenge Josh Parker of Littlefield’s Gym in Oakland in the NEF lightweight semifinals scheduled during Fight Night IV on Sept. 8 in Lewiston.
“The lightweight division in Maine is arguably our deepest,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo. “We have a great crop at 155, and it was really difficult for us to decide on which two contenders were most deserving of the title shot. So we decided just to put them all in there and let them settle it with this mini-tournament.”
Boyington is determined to prove against Woodman that he is even more than he showed during his last 10 seconds in the cage.
“In the grand scheme of things that last fight was just 10 seconds, and you certainly can’t base your fighting ability on something that short,” said Boyington, who works as a diabetes retinal imager at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Bangor. “It’s like a basketball player shooting from full court, and that time I was able to make it.
“I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am now if that last fight hadn’t been like that, but now I want to show people that I’m more than just those 10 seconds. On Sept. 8 I want to show people what I’m capable of doing.”
Boyington, a U.S. Marine from 1998 to 2002, says that sudden knockout has served to boost his self-confidence within the sport, as well as his determination to see where his fledgling pro career — he has a 3-2 record — might take him.
“The last couple of years I’ve really gone full throttle, training full time and being part of a real team,” said Boyington, whose sponsors include Haskins’ Tree Service, All-America Painting, The Warrior Fitness of Valencia, Calif., PU2SFightwear and Portland Hardcore. “For me the difference is night and day of the kind of fighter I am today compared to what I was before.
“It’s been a wild ride, but one thing it’s done is give me the confidence to go out and fight and hopefully get seen by the bigger promotions. I’m starting to realize that it can come true.”
Boyington, who fought for a Massachusetts-based promotion before making his NEF debut at Fight Night III, believes a victory at Fight Night IV will lead to a championship fight in November in front of his hometown fans.
“I’m telling the world and I’m telling my friends that there’s no way I’m losing on Sept. 8,” said Boyington, who plans to dedicate his next fight to the late Corey J. Morin, his best friend while growing up in Old Town. “Because if I win that fight, not only will I get a chance to fight for the title but it also looks like with all the talk that’s going on that it might be in Bangor.
“All the guys coming up through have the dream of fighting for a title and fighting in their hometown, and to have a title fight in my hometown would be a dream come true for me.”
Large card slated for Fight Night IV
Fight cards in all genres are subject to change given the potential for injury during training, but New England Fights has announced plans to stage more than two dozen fights during its Sept. 8 card in Lewiston.
Headlining the evening will be two NEF Maine professional championship bouts, a middleweight (185-pound) clash between former Maine high school wrestling standouts Jesse Peterson (6-2) and Cody Lightfoot (6-3), and a welterweight (170-pound) title fight between “The” Ryan Sanders (4-1) of Young’s MMA and former UFC competitor Ricardo Funch (8-4).
‘Soap’ Am scores tuneup victory
Undefeated Sophanarith “Soap” Am of Braintree, Mass., tuned up for his Sept. 8 showdown with former Bucksport High School three-sport athlete Ray “All Business” Wood at Fight Night IV with a five-round unanimous decision over Leon Campbell of Boston during an MMA card last weekend at Holyoke, Mass.
Am won every round by a 10-9 margin on all three judges’ scorecards to improve his record to 4-0 after defeating Campbell for the second time in his young career.
Am is ranked first regionally among amateur featherweights (145-pound limit) by NortheastMMA.net, while Wood (4-1) is ranked third in the same division heading into their matchup at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Based out of Young’s MMA, Wood has been idle since suffering his only loss, a unanimous decision to Shane Manley of Cortland, N.Y., at Fight Night II in Biddeford on April 14.
Wood, who normally competes at 145 pounds, had to fight up at 150 against Manley, who came down from 155 pounds and used that natural edge in size to his advantage.