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Big-fight preparation includes training trip to California

LMP | New England Fights
LMP | New England Fights
Windham native Jamie Harrison (right) reaches for a takedown attempt against Bruce Boyington during their NEF XVII mixed martial arts main event at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Harrison won via first-round tapout with a rear-naked choke.
By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

A trip to California doesn’t seem out of the norm for summer vacation.

But for Bruce Boyington, it’s all about business.

Business, in this case, is a nationally televised Aug. 3 mixed martial arts bout in Lincoln, Rhode Island, against Sean Soriano for the vacant CES featherweight championship.

Preparation for that bout will include a week at Blackhouse MMA in Redondo Beach, California, where Boyington will train with noted wrestling coach and former Olympian Kenny Johnson at a gym that has been home to such Ultimate Fighting Championship stalwarts as B.J. Penn, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Alan Jouban.

“Soriano’s a tough kid, and this is a really, really tough fight so it’s got my attention,” said Boyington, who left Wednesday morning for the West Coast. “I’m not going to handle it lightly.”

This fight against Soriano, an anticipated battle of accomplished strikers that will be televised live on AXS-TV, came about as Boyington was training for an anticipated Sept. 8 fight at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Boyington (15-11) was looking forward to fighting in the Queen City for the first time since July 2013, but the chance to compete for one of the few regional promotions in the country with a national television contract — and with a title belt on the line — proved too much to resist.

“I’d been talking with CES on and off,” said Boyington, a Milford native and former U.S. Marine who now lives in Brewer and trains at Young’s MMA in Bangor. “When they called I said, ‘Give me two seconds to think about it,’ and then I said ‘Yeah, I’m in. I don’t need to think about it.’”

At 39, Boyington is more than a decade older than Soriano, a Providence, Rhode Island, native who trains in Florida at another top MMA gym, the Blackzilians. Soriano, 11-5 overall and a veteran of three UFC bouts, turns 29 Oct. 6.

But older fighters have fared well recently on mixed martial arts’ major stages — 40-year-old Daniel Cormier last weekend added the UFC heavyweight crown to the light-heavyweight title he already owned — and Boyington still maintains hope of getting a shot in the UFC, an opportunity that already has come to such recent Northeast powerhouses as Nick Newell, Rob Font and Matt Bessette.

“My age seems to be a continuous topic and I’m trying to understand it all a little better,” Boyington said. “I think there are things like injuries that start stacking up so you’re not always as fresh as you would be otherwise, but I don’t think that it’s just that you’re older and you don’t have the skill at that age anymore so you can’t compete.”

If anything, it may be matters outside the cage that complicate the training regimen of a fighter with a wider array of life experiences than a younger opponent.

“Maybe it’s just that everything between the dotted lines is a little harder,” Boyington said. “Managing life with the family can be especially difficult at this time of the year because the kids want to go play in the pond and there are family vacations and things like that.”

And that’s part of what has led the former World Series of Fighting combatant across the country for a week of world-class preparation.

“It’s the middle of this summer and we’ve had all this beautiful weather, but I’m setting that all aside because I’ve got to focus on a fight, which can be a really hard thing to do at this time of year,” he said. “But I have this opportunity and I need make the best of it.”

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