FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lewiston, Maine (June 5, 2019)
In addition to his status as one of the most exciting professional mixed martial arts prospects in New England, Josh “Hook On” Harvey is the answer to a New England Fights trivia question.
Harvey, undefeated as a professional after a rapid rise through the amateur ranks, is the only combatant to wear the NEF championship belt at both levels.
When he’s asked if that is any particular status symbol within the organization, or New England, or the MMA world at large, the shrug is almost perceptible in Harvey’s voice.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in it,” Harvey said. “Any belt – the NEF belt, the UFC belt – it’s always changing. It means you won the last fight. You’re the best for now. You defend it once or twice and then somebody’s eventually going to come along and kick your ass. Everybody’s got an ass-kicking coming to them for some reason. Probably even you, right?”
Perhaps, but the 29-year old Harvey (6-0-1), based out of Bangor, Maine, has been the deliverer of those bad tidings to this point.
Harvey aims to inflict another quick beating when he puts that pro featherweight strap on the line in the main event at “NEF 39: All American” against Jordan Downey (5-4) of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Bell time is 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22 for the organization’s wildly anticipated return to its original haunt, Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
It’s a classic something-has-to-give match-up. All six of Harvey’s professional wins are first-round stoppages. Downey, who has won four of his last five fights, went to the cards in each of his four defeats.
That hasn’t stopped the confident Harvey from assigning his opponent a nickname.
“Jordan Down-He-Goes,” the champ said with laugh, before quickly backing it up with some praise for the traveling man. “He seems well-rounded from what I can tell. Good stand-up, good striker. Wherever it goes, it’s going to be a fight.”
At a lanky 5-foot-10 for his weight class, Harvey has wisely played to his strengths while building his resume.
What others may consider a question mark in his game, he sees as capital that’s been kept safely in the bank.
“People underestimate my striking,” Harvey said. “I’ve only taken people down to finish them. You take what the fight gives you. If you can finish somebody, you don’t mess around.”
Harvey’s arm lock at 2:19 of the first round dispatched Bill Jones for the title back in February. It came three months after the stalemate on his ledger, against Joe Giannetti in Plymouth, Massachusetts, near his rival’s home base.
Prior to that, Harvey took out Derek Shorey and Jay Ellis, both in less than a minute.
“I’m a hard guy to hit. I haven’t really been hit as a professional. You can watch the videos,” Harvey said. “The guys in the gym hit me more than I’ve ever been hit in the cage. I train with absolute killers.
“That’s the nature of the best. Train hard, and then fight easy.”
He characterizes the majority draw over Giannetti as a hometown decision.
“I did what I had to do to win that fight,” he said. “I was robbed. When I went to the Massachusetts commission they said it wasn’t reviewable. But I’ve watched it many times and it’s clear I won at least two of the rounds.”
On the heels of that experience, Harvey respects Downey for taking a match in hostile territory.
The bout with Giannetti was Harvey’s first foray as a pro outside the auspices of NEF.
“Any fight where you’re the home guy, the judges naturally have their eyes on you, and they’re going to see anything good that you do, so it’s going to be multiplied,” Harvey said. “There are always going to be politics. I mean, look at NEF. It’s run by a politician and a lawyer! But of course I commend Matt (Peterson) and Nick (DiSalvo) for everything they’ve done for the sport. If it hadn’t been for those guys, MMA probably still would be illegal in Maine. They’re the ones who fought for it and pushed it through.”
One of NEF’s accomplishments was luring UFC president Dana White back to his home state for a card in conjunction with his “Looking for a Fight” series three summers ago.
Harvey was a professional newcomer at that point. He out-slugged journeyman Zenon Herrera for his second win of that chapter. A relative epic at 3:47, it was by far the longest outing of Harvey’s pro career.
The performance was enough to put Harvey on White’s radar.
“One thing he told me was 10-0 and I’m gonna go,” Harvey recalled. “That was from his lips to my ears.”
Three or four more wins without a hiccup would hold up Harvey’s end of the bargain, although he said that phone call has never been his primary motivation.
“I didn’t start fighting so I could say I made it to UFC,” Harvey said. “I started fighting because I wanted to go punch Conor McGregor in his beard. I told everybody that was my whole goal. I wanted to go do it in Dublin. They hate him in Dublin! And we’re roughly the same age, so I always figured it was a possibility.”
“NEF 39: ALL-AMERICAN,” will take place on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine with a bell time of 7 pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com.
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 fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.