New regimen, new approach fuel Boyington ahead of latest challenge

(Photo by Will Paul)  CES MMA FEATHERWEIGHT World Champion Bruce Boyington, left, defends his title for the first time on Friday, May 31st, 2019 in a five-round showdown with Dan Dubuque on the main card of CES MMA 56 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Boyington defeated UFC vet Sean Soriano to capture the title in 2018. The main card also features the CES MMA debut of Nick Newell and the return of Connecticut natives Parker Porter and Jessy Miele

PROVIDENCE, R.I.: Bruce Boyington is all business. While traveling to sunny Redondo Beach, CA, would be a vacation for most, CES MMA’s reigning featherweight world champion is there to sharpen his skills in preparation for his first title defense next Friday in Hartford, CT.

The Milford, ME native spent a week and a half training at Blackhouse MMA, home to UFC legends B.J. Penn, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, among others. On Friday, May 31st, 2019, he fights for the first time since capturing the then vacant CES MMA title when he faces challengerDan Dubuque (8-2, 2 KOs) in a five-round bout, headlining CES MMA 56 at the Connecticut Convention Center live on UFC Fight Pass.

Tickets for the event start at $35.00 and are available for purchase online at www.cesmma.com or www.ctconventions.com or by phone at 401-724-2253. All fights and fighters subject to change.

For Boyington (16-11, 7 KOs), there’s a noticeable benefit to training with some of the sport’s upper-echelon fighters. He first made the trip a year ago prior to his title bout against former UFC vet Sean Soriano, a fight in which he was a 4-to-1 underdog. Boyington pulled off the upset on AXS TV, submitting Soriano via rear-naked choke at CES 51.

Now the pilgrimage to southern Los Angeles is a must for Boyington, whose experience rolling with the likes of Machida and UFC welterweight contender Kevin Lee is the equivalent of a slugger swinging a weighted bat in the on-deck circle. In addition to expanding his horizons by training out west, Boyington also switched camps a year ago and now works with Titan Athletics in Brewer, which he says has put him in “a whole new category as far as being a fighter goes.”

“Nothing against Dan, but when you test yourself against fighters like that and then come back and fight a guy like Dan, it’s beneficial to know you’re not going against a guy who’s as good as those guys,” Boyington said. “Maybe he is that good, but he hasn’t gone to the UFC and fought guys like that. Mentally, it does a lot for me.”

Boyington, who turned 40 in May, uses whatever he can as motivation, whether it’s being labeled an underdog by the odds-makers like he was against Soriano, or quips about his age, which seems him to annoy him the most.

A lifelong athlete who has always kept himself in impeccable shape, Boyington feels better than ever as he puts the finishing touches on his latest training camp. He started taekwondo at a young age and enlisted in the U.S. Marines out of high school, eventually teaching taekwondo to corpsmen in between deployments. In his four years of active duty, he spent time in Afghanistan, Greece, Albania and Macedonia and was stationed in Kosovo during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Life in mixed martial arts has kept him equally well-traveled; in between bouts on the regional circuit, Boyington headlined a fight card in Russia and also faced Andre Harrison at Madison Square Garden four months later for World Series of Fighting. Both the military and MMA have had a profound impact on his life, teaching him discipline and routine and forcing him to adhere to a strict code of ethics he maintains both in and out of the cage. When he’s not preparing for an upcoming fight, he runs his own school in nearby Brewer, appropriately named Boyington’s Taekwondo Academy.

There’s no doubt what keeps him motivated — it’s his love of competition and the burning desire to keep proving people wrong. The underdog mentality has served him well through the years. “I think there’s a lot more pressure when you’re not the underdog,” he said. “I just don’t like being counted out. I don’t like people underestimating me. People talk about my age, as if that has anything to do with how I am as a fighter, and it fuels me to defy the odds.”

Dubuque, a Waterbury, CT, native, will have the crowd on his side as he enters the title fight on a four fight win streak, including his most recent bout at CES 55. But Boyington is more confident than ever in his training and tutelage. In the past, he’s had difficulty preparing for fights due to a lack of training partners, or with outside distractions, but his business trip out west helped clear his mind, which may end up being more important than anything else.

“Being out there allowed me to put all of my focus on my training,” Boyington said. “When I come home, I’m in a good place, and I get to come out on fight night with an entire team behind me. All of those things play a big role. Rolling with guys who are all pushing me, knowing my body is conditioned, puts me in a good place mentally. It feels great. I’m focusing on all the right things.”

CES 56 is available on UFC Fight Pass with Michael Parente handling play-by-play alongside color commentator and longtime UFC vet “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Canadian MMA analyst Robin Black. Fights start at 6:30 p.m. ET with the live stream beginning at 8.

CES 56 also features the CES MMA debut of Springfield, Mass., lightweight Nick Newell (14-2, 2 KOs), who faces Texas’ Antonio Castillo (10-10, 1 KO), plus the return of Oyster Bay, N.Y., native John Gotti III (3-0, 3 KOs) in a welterweight bout against David Espino (3-2, 2 KOs) of Quincy, Mass.

Puerto Rico Media Workout Quotes: Jose Pedraza Amped Up for Lozada Challenge

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico: It is personal for former two-division world champion and current lightweight contender Jose “Sniper” Pedraza. His opponent May 25 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, is Antonio Lozada Jr., who in March of last year knocked out then-undefeated Felix Verdejo in the 10th round. Verdejo and Pedraza both hail from Puerto Rico, and Pedraza, who is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko, hopes to avenge his countryman’s defeat.

Pedraza-Lozada will serve as the co-feature to Masayuki Ito’s WBO junior lightweight title defense against Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET).

The undercard (ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET) is chock full of Puerto Rico’s best young talent, including 130-pound puncher Henry Lebron (8-0, 6 KOs) and super flyweight contender Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5 KOs). Lebron will face Luis Lizarraga Jr. (6-12-1, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder, while Cintron, a two-time Puerto Rican Olympian, will battle former interim flyweight world champion Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

Pedraza, Cintron, and Lebron worked out for the media Wednesday at Felix Pagan Pintor Boxing Gym. This is what they had to say.

José Pedraza

“I am very motivated for this fight. Lozada is a very dangerous fighter, and the sport of boxing is very unpredictable. He is the typical Mexican warrior who always comes forward and applies pressure at all times, but we have worked very hard, and I am sure that I will come out victorious for all of Puerto Rico on May 25.”

“I want to get rid of that thorn (avenging Verdejo’s loss against Lozada), but I have to modify my words. I’m not going for revenge necessarily because only Felix can take revenge on Lozada. As the good Puerto Rican brothers that we are, I’m coming to take that thorn out because he beat one of my longtime friends. I’m coming to win this fight!”

“After this fight, I would like to return to the world title scene at 135 pounds, and I would like to be able to have a championship opportunity by the end of this year. But if I do not get that chance, I will examine my options at 140 pounds. I would like to become a three-division world champion.”

Jeyvier Cintron

“I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time. I’ve been working hard with my coach, Iván Calderón, and I’m ready for big fights. It’s my time to shine, and on May 25, I’m going to show that I’m ready to face the great fighters at 115 pounds.”

“I’m going to face an experienced fighter who has already been an interim world champion, but I’m coming with everything. I’m going to give everything in the ring, and I assure my people that I will come out with the victory.”

Henry Lebrón

“I feel super happy to be representing the new wave of Puerto Rican fighters in front of the fans in Kissimmee. Many Boricua fighters will see action on May 25 at Osceola Heritage Park, and we are coming to give an excellent show to our people. Kissimmee is like our house.”

“My opponent is a Mexican fighter that endures a lot of punishment. He takes punches very well, and I think that this will be a long fight. I am prepared to go the distance, but I also have punching power. If I hurt him, I’m going for the knockout.”

“I am a young fighter. I am in the process of continuing to grow and learn, but in 2019, I would like to fight for a youth world title. If I get the opportunity to become a youth world champion, I will take full advantage of the opportunity.”

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with All Star Boxing and Teiken Promotions, tickets are on sale now. Priced at $100 (ringside) and $50 (general admission), including all taxes and facility fees, tickets may be purchased online via ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800.745.3000 or in person at Osceola Heritage Park box office (open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. and on event days). For more information: www.ohpark.com.

For more information, visit: www.toprank.comwww.espn.com/boxing; Facebook:facebook.com/trboxing; Twitter: twitter.com/trboxing.

Use the hashtags #ItoHerring and PedrazaLozada to join the conversation on social media.

After first BRAVE win, Jose Torres accepts new challenge: ‘He doesn’t stand a chance’

Jose “Shorty” Torres got back on track by beating previously undefeated Amir Albazi in his first BRAVE outing, at BRAVE 23: Pride and Honor, last week. Right after his win, the American star was called out by Brazilian striker Marcel Adur, a veteran with four promotional fights to his name.

Marcel called “Shorty” out in his social media profiles, congratulating his rival on his first BRAVE win, but claimed he needed to face a “real fighter” next. Torres responded in kind.

“Marcel Adur is a great stand up fighter. I think it would be a great matchup for the fans as it’d be against two flyweights who are known to stand and trade, put on a show and have gone the distance in a championship fight. The only difference between him and I is. I’ve never lost in a title fight and I’m not ever planning to”, said Jose, referring to Adur’s loss to Alkhasov, in November of last year.

Adur added that their bout should be for the Flyweight title, an idea that was endorsed by Torres, who has ambitious plans of holding two world belts in BRAVE. Torres says that, if the bout comes to fruition, Marcel has no chance of beating him.

“He had his chance against a dominant wrestler and lost, but I know he doesn’t stand a chance against a dominant wrestler who can trade as well as me. If BRAVE fans want it, I’ll give it, but regardless of the fact. I will be the inaugural flyweight champion!”

Adur is coming off a decision loss against Velimurad Alkhasov in the first-ever BRAVE Flyweight world title fight. As the Russian didn’t make weight, the inaugural Flyweight belt would only be awarded in case Marcel beat Alkhasov. That loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for the Brazilian, who had all those victories via stoppage.