LEWISTON, Maine — New England Fights has announced a marathon 30-fight mixed martial arts card for its debut show of 2015.
“NEF XIV,” set for Feb. 7 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, is scheduled to include seven professional bouts and 23 amateur contests.
“This card might just be our most ambitious to date,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo.
The pro card is headlined by two NEF title fights, one the return of former Bucksport resident Ray “All Business” Wood back to the Pine Tree State to make the second defense of his NEF featherweight crown.
Wood, who last fall moved to Gaffney, South Carolina, takes a 5-0 record under the Young’s MMA banner into his main-event clash with Bellator and World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison of Philadelphia.
With a 16-9 record, Morrison is expected to be a formidable foe for Wood, but NEF officials believe that with a victory in this bout Wood could draw closer to getting an opportunity to move up to one of the national MMA promotions.
The show’s co-main event has former National Football League player and current NEF heavyweight champion Tyler King (7-2) defending his title against Terry “The Polar Bear” Blackburn (5-2).
King, the son of former New England Patriots linebacker Steve King, saw NFL duty for the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals before turning his attention to MMA and eventually appearing on the 19th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” television series in early 2014.
Among the other pro fights is a featherweight matchup between Derek Shorey (1-1) of Dover-Foxcroft and the Shatterproof Combat Club and Jon Lemke (4-3) of Marcus Davis’ Team Irish in Brewer.
The amateur side of the card will include a battle of up-and-coming featherweights between Dixfield’s Caleb Hall (5-1) of the Choi Institute in Portland and Dexter’s Josh Harvey (2-1) from Young’s MMA in Bangor. Both have extensive high school wrestling backgrounds, Hall at Dirigo High School and Harvey at Dexter Regional High School.
Also scheduled are separate bouts involving two of the three fighting Bang brothers from Auburn, Sheldon Bang (1-1) and Steven Bang (3-2), as well as their father Dr. Steve Bang, a 46-year-old bariatric surgeon with a background in wrestling who will be making his MMA debut.
A women’s bantamweight clash between Fernanda Araujo (3-3-1) and Hillary Cooledge (0-1) also is part of the amateur card.
‘Crowsneck’ gains title shot
Crowsneck Boutin will get his first chance to fight for an MMA championship belt on Jan. 30.
The Trescott native, who now lives and trains in Portland, will face Xavier Vargas of Plaistow, New Hampshire, for the vacant Combat Zone LLC amateur light heavyweight title as part of the CZ 52 card to be held at Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire.
Boutin, who was scheduled to fight at NEF XVI until his opponent pulled out of their bout, won all three of his fights in 2014, most recently a first-round knockout of Ramon Saintvil at NEF XIV in Lewiston on Sept. 6.
Boutin, who was voted 2014 NEF fighter of the year, will take a 6-6 overall record into his 205-pound amateur title bout against Vargas, the third-ranked light heavyweight in New England according to Mass MMA.
Vargas (3-2) is coming off a loss in his last fight via three-round split decision in a heavyweight clash with undefeated Javier Velasquez at CZ 47 held Jan. 14, 2014, also at Salem.
Abiague wins NE pro boxing title
Portland Boxing Club fighter Jorge Abiague won the vacant New England super bantamweight championship last Saturday night with an eight-round split decision victory over Josh Crespo of New Haven, Connecticut.
The fight was part of a CES Boxing promotion held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Abiague, a former national Golden Gloves flyweight champion during his amateur days, controlled the action during the first two rounds but had to survive a punishing straight right hand landed by Crespo at the end of the third round.
Abiague relied on a sharp jab to regroup and eventually won the fight by a comfortable margin on two of the three scorecards. Abiague was declared the victor by six rounds to two (78-74) by two judges with the third judge scoring the fight for Crespo 77-75.
Abiague is 8-1 as a professional after securing the 185th pro or amateur championship won by Portland Boxing Club fighters.