LEWISTON, Maine — Josh Harvey scored a first-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Ricky Dexter in a battle of Bangor-area mixed martial arts combatants Saturday night to become the first New England Fights amateur lightweight champion.
The Harvey-Dexter bout was one of three title fights among 20 overall bouts on the NEF XVIII card staged before approximately 2,000 spectators at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Harvey, a former wrestler at Dexter Regional High School now fighting out of Young’s MMA in Bangor, required just 61 seconds to submit Dexter with an armbar to improve his amateur record to 4-1.
Dexter, who trains at Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer, fell to 3-1.
NEF also crowned its first amateur champions in the heavyweight and flyweight divisions. Billy “Bigfoot” Leahy, a former Oxford Hills of South Paris football player and wrestler also affiliated with Young’s MMA, won a wild back-and-forth brawl with Ryan Glover by unanimous decision to secure the heavyweight belt.
Leahy improved his record to 3-1. Glover, a former wrestler and football player at Mountain Valley High School of Rumford, is 1-1.
Dustin Veinott of Auburn (4-3) won a split decision over “Sleepy” Norman Fox of Bath (4-2) to capture the flyweight title.
NEF pro lightweight champion Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington of Brewer stopped John “First Class” Raio of Topsham via strikes at 3:30 of the second round in the night’s main event, a nontitle matchup contested at a catchweight of 150 pounds.
The victory avenged a controversial loss by Boyington (11-8) to Raio (2-8) in February 2014. Boyington had early control in the first round of that meeting, but Raio gained the advantage with with a rear-naked choke hold.
When Boyington waved his free hand to signal he was OK to continue, the referee took that as a tapout sign and ended the contest with Raio the victor — a decision that spawned more than a year of back and forth between the fight camps that prompted the rematch.
The Boyington-Raio bout was one of five professional fights at NEF XVII and one of two that lasted more than one round.
Trescott native Crowsneck Boutin made a successful pro debut, scoring a unanimous decision over Ryan Cowette of Bath in a middleweight clash, while Jeremy DiChiara, Jesse Erickson and Cody Anderson each won by a first-round stoppage.
Among the other amateur bouts on the card, Camden Hills Regional High School wrestling coach Patrick Kelly of Rockport improved his record to 3-0 by stopping Dr. Steve Bang, a bariatric surgeon from Auburn, in the first round by technical knockout via strikes.
New England Fights has scheduled its next show, NEF XIX, for Sept. 12 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.