When Bruce Boyington fought last August for the CES (Classic Entertainment & Sports) world featherweight championship in Lincoln, Rhode Island, he was the so-called “opponent” brought in presumably to lose against a hometown favorite.
When the “Pretty Boy” takes on Dan Dabuque in the main event of CES 56 on May 31 in Hartford, Connecticut, he’ll face a similar scenario as he enters the cage against another hometown favorite — with one major exception.
Boyington will be defending his championship belt.
“It’s funny how that works,” said Boyington, a Milford native and Brewer resident. “If I’m being honest with you, I kind of like going into their territory because in my mind there’s less pressure for me and more for them. If you’re fighting in your hometown and 300 people are coming just to watch you, it’s a lot on your mind. I don’t have that.”
Boyington (16-11) has won his last two fights by stoppage, most recently capturing the latest of his six career championship belts when he stopped Providence, Rhode Island’s Sean Soriano by rear-naked choke in the second round of their clash for the vacant CES featherweight title.
CES is one of the country’s top regional MMA promotions, with its cards broadcast for several years by AXS-TV and now available through UFC Fight Pass.
CES 56 originally was scheduled for May 10 but was pushed back to May 31 to accommodate the UFC Fight Pass live streaming schedule.
That change didn’t alter Boyington’s training schedule at his new base of operations, Titan Athletics in Brewer, where he also operates Boyington’s Taekwondo Academy.
“I’ve been training for the last three months, and knowing I was going to have a fight I’ve been turning it up for the last three weeks and now that the contract has been signed I’m getting real serious about it,” Boyington said.
Dabuque, a 33-year-old product of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, last fought just two weeks ago when he scored a unanimous-decision victory over Antonio Castillo Jr., at CES 55, also at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
That was Dabuque’s first fight with CES since October 2016. Since then he had fought three times for the Massachusetts-based Cage Titans Fighting Championship and in April 2018 won that promotion’s lightweight title with a first-round technical knockout of Jimmy Manning.
Dabuque will take a four-fight winning streak to CES 56.
“He’s a well-rounded MMA fighter, kind of the new breed that does a little of everything, but compared to some of the guys I’ve fought in my career he’s not someone I’m stressed about,” Boyington said. “I don’t want people to take that the wrong way, I absolutely respect him and will be fighting as hard as I can, but I like the odds in this one.”
Boyington said his preparation for the bout likely will include a return to Blackhouse MMA in Redondo Beach, California, to work out with noted wrestling coach and former Olympian Kenny Johnson. It is the home base for such UFC standouts as B.J. Penn, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Alan Jouban.
Boyington spent a week working with Johnson in California before his CES title win over Soriano as a 4-to-1 underdog.
Boyington will surpass another milestone before facing Dabuque. He’ll turn 40 on May 5.
“I know the number changes every year and it’s a big deal to the fight world, that 4-0, but I’m not the least bit bothered by it as far as how I feel,” Boyington said.
He is rated the No. 1 featherweight in New England as well as No. 8 in the Northeast and No. 22 among pro featherweights nationwide by tapology.com.
“I don’t feel any older. Actually I feel a lot better because of the training I’ve been doing. Training at Titan Athletics under Eduardo Benjamin and Jeremy Tyler I’ve been able to grapple with so many good guys that I feel a lot healthier and a lot stronger.”