FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lewiston, Maine (April 1, 2016) – The earth-shattering announcement came late last night.  New England Fights (NEF) Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Professional Lightweight Champion Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington (13-8) took to Facebook to notify his fans that he had vacated the title belt.  Some speculated that it could be an April Fools’ joke, but those rumors were later quelled when Boyington himself stated under the thread that his decision had been made for personal and medical reasons, citing recent surgeries and a host of longstanding injuries.

“After one of the most inspirational and exhilarating rides of my life, I have talked with my wife, my coaching staff and teammates and have decided it’s now time to let go of one chapter and turn the page for another,” Boyington stated when reached for official comment. “NEF has been there for me since the start and I couldn’t ask for a better group to get me where I want to go. I like the thought of vacating the belt on top and handing it off to one of my teammates, hopefully. Josh Harvey (0-0) and I will be excited to watch a couple other lightweight warriors going after the strap. Obviously Jon Lemke has quite a claim to that shot and I see my friend Jesse Erickson in the mix as well. Whatever should happen, I will always cherish every battle I’ve had in the NEF cage. Thank you sincerely to Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo.”

NEF executives acted quickly and formulated a plan by midnight to fill the title that sits atop the fight promotion’s most hotly contested professional division.  As a new day dawned, that plan had come to fruition.

“Bruce was a great champion,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo.  “He was the face of this promotion for two years.  The 155-pound title is our most coveted championship and there is no shortage of worthy challengers.  The decision to fill it as soon as possible was an easy one to make.”

Jesse “The Viking” Erickson (6-4) and Devin Powell (5-1) will now meet in a five-round contest at “NEF 22: ALL ROADS LEAD HERE” to crown a new champion.  The bout was already signed as a non-title three-rounder to headline the MMA portion of the April 23rd fight card in Lewiston, Maine.  Both athletes quickly agreed to go five rounds with the title on the line. Both athletes have each won their last three fights in a row respectively.

“I am honored to be able to fight for the title which I saw Bruce Boyington recently defend against Jon Lemke (5-4) in the best local fight I’ve ever gotten to see,” said Powell.  “I hope Jesse and I can put on a show for the fans that can be talked about for years to come.  I’ve been training too hard and too long to not hop on this opportunity.  I can’t wait to get in that cage April 23rd in front of an always amped up NEF crowd!”

Speaking of Lemke, NEF executives placed one condition on the upcoming Erickson-Powell bout – the winner must make his first defense of the lightweight title against Lemke.  Lemke lost a very close split decision in an attempt to claim the title from Boyington earlier this year.  That fight has been called “the greatest fight to ever take place in the NEF MMA cage” by many observers.

“Jon Lemke more-than deserves another crack at the strap,” said NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson.  “His bout with Bruce at ‘NEF 21’ was nothing short of epic. I was completely spellbound watching that fight for the full 25-minutes it was contested. It’s a bittersweet time at NEF.  Bruce was a great fighting champion and despite the high stakes every time he stepped into the cage, he was always one of the most active competitors on the NEF roster. Bruce’s warrior spirit and memorable performances in the NEF cage will be dearly missed, but we are fortunate to have so many superb athletes waiting in the wings right behind him to fill that void. There will be no shortage of upcoming action in the NEF lightweight division.”

“It was a privilege and honor to fight Bruce for the lightweight title,” stated Lemke when reached for comment. “After the fight, I was pretty confident I did enough to win. Now, after watching the fight numerous times, there is no doubt in my mind that I won that fight. If Bruce doesn’t want to fight me again and vacate his belt, I understand and respect that decision. However, I am hungrier than ever and want what I believe is rightfully mine. It would be an honor to fight the winner of Erickson versus Powell for the title and I very much look forward to it.”

The April 23rd bout will be Jesse Erickson’s third attempt to capture the lightweight title.  He had competed against Boyington twice previously unsuccessfully for the championship.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to compete once again for the NEF lightweight title,” stated Erickson. “I was embarrassed postponing my first fight with Devin due to injury, but it seems everything happens for a reason.  To bleed for gold and glory. My Viking ancestors would be proud.  Give me the battle I crave, Devin.  Victory or Valhalla!”

New England Fights’ next event, “NEF 22: ALL ROADS LEAD HERE,” takes place Saturday, April 23, 2016 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine.  Tickets for “NEF 22” start at just $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com or by calling the Colisée box office at 207.783.2009 x 525.  For more information on the event and fight card updates, please visit the promotion’s website at www.NewEnglandFights.com.  In addition, you can watch NEF videos at www.youtube.com/NEFMMA, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”

About New England Fights

New England Fights (“NEF”) is a fight events promotions company. NEF’s mission is to create the highest quality events for Maine’s fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.