LEWISTON, Maine -– Ray “All Business” Wood is taking on the persona of a fighting champion.
Six days after the mixed martial arts practitioner from Bucksport became the first winner of the Maine state featherweight championship, New England Fights announced Thursday that Wood will make his first title defense against Joe “Lights Out” Pingitore on Sept. 21 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“Ray Wood is on his way to becoming the most active winning fighter in the Northeast this year,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo in a press release. “After securing the 145-pound championship less than a week ago, Wood was immediately asking Matt [Peterson, NEF co-owner and matchmaker] what was next.
“Ray’s performances in the cage reflect clarity of purpose — he knows what he wants to do with his life; he’s committed to remaining undefeated and finishing fights. He has that championship mentality.”
The 24-year-old Wood, 4-0 as a professional after winning his first title with a 61-second stoppage via guillotine choke of Canadian Lenny Wheeler at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor last Friday night, will face a fellow unbeaten in Pingitore, a Johnston, R.I., product with a 4-0-1 pro record.
“I want to see if the Ray Wood hype is real,” said Pingitore.
Pingitore, 22, last fought May 18 when he scored a three-round unanimous decision over Sean Nichols in Dorchester, Mass., while fighting at a catch-weight of 150 pounds.
Wood, meanwhile, has not had to go the distance against any of his first four professional opponents.
“Ray Wood and Joe Ping are at the perfect points in their careers to face one another,” said Peterson. “Both fighters are young, athletic and focused. Their records are virtually identical. The winner of this fight should be included in the final-four discussion for the top slots in the ultra-competitive Northeast featherweight division, without a doubt.”
Wood and Pingitore share one common opponent, New Yorker Ahsan Abdullah. Wood scored a first-round technical knockout over the 20-year-old Abdullah when they met as amateurs in Lewiston on Feb. 11, 2012, then secured a tapout via armbar in a rematch as pros this May 18, also at Lewiston.
Pingitore also owns a win over Abdullah, that coming via a split decision last Aug. 3 at the Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, R.I. That fight marked Abdullah’s professional debut.
“Winning the Maine state MMA featherweight title in my hometown was an honor,” said Wood. “However, defending the title in Lewiston against ‘Lights Out’ will certainly be a privilege. He’s a well-rounded fighter with good striking ability and I have yet to face a good, solid striker. I see this fight being a fast-paced, standup war.”