New England Fights return to Lewiston for the first time since February 2018 with another stacked card
(Poster Credit: NEF MMA)

When New England Fights marks its return to Lewiston, Maine on June 22 it will have been over 492 days since the promotion last stopped in “Little Canada“. With four title fights split evenly between amateur and professional ranks, a planned in-cage wedding and 16 total fights scheduled, fight fans can expect yet another action packed event with NEF 39: All-American right around the corner.

Lewiston’s National Combat Sports Footprint

In a panic, Lewiston’s Central Maine Youth Center (Androscoggin Bank Colisée) was selected to host the rematch between Ali and Liston in May of 1965
(Photo Credit: Yankee Magazine / Neil Leifer – Sports Illustrated – Time)

Many may be surprised to learn that the iconic photograph of Muhammad Ali standing atop a fallen Sonny Liston was actually taken in Lewiston, Maine on May 25, 1965. Time Magazine placed the image as #37 in their list of the “Top 100 Of The Most Influential Photos Of All Time”, and interestingly enough the fight was hastily planned due to a litany of circumstances with then State Governor John H. Reed stepping in to exercise his powers by having the fight moved from Boston, Mass. to Lewiston in a matter of weeks.

In a 2015, journalist Harvey Araton penned “The Night the Ali-Liston Fight Came to Lewiston” which explored the events that lead up to the rematch including the resulting attendance figures recorded from those hurried plans to move the event roughly 137 miles north to Lewiston.

“The fight’s official paid attendance would be 2,434 — the lowest for a heavyweight title fight in modern history — but the crowd was believed to have swelled to over 4,000, which included spectators with free tickets, reporters and those who took advantage of the arena’s leaky security.”

While the build-up to the fight courted controversy, the finish was equally dubious and leaves questions to this day, but in all, Lewiston made a mark on boxing and combat sports history in 1965 that resonates with locals 54 years later.

What to Expect in the Promotion’s Return

NEF 39: All-American features 16 scheduled bouts including four title fights (Photo credit: NEF MMA)

With 13 amateur and three professional fights slated to take place on June 22, fight fans can expect fast-paced action from the Androscoggin Bank Colisée. In title contention, Young’s MMA’s own Glory Watson (4-0 am.) is looking to continue her undefeated streak by knocking off promotional newcomer Caree Hill (4-1 am.) in women’s flyweight action. At men’s flyweight, CMBJJ’s Nate Boucher (4-3 am.) aims to make it three in a row against Ohio’s Robert Presley (5-4 am.).

Nate Boucher sizes up Dillon Henry ahead of their NEF 37: SubZero meeting in February
(Photo Credit: Fight Night Picks)

Lightweight title action sees local fan favourite Jesse Erickson (9-7) in a bid to become the promotion’s winningest fighter against budding New Hampshire product Dylan Lockard (5-1). Erickson’s last appearance under the NEF banner saw “The Viking” score a first round rear-naked finish over Mike Hansen in February of last year. Over his career Erickson’s fought the likes of Bruce Boyington in back-to-back 2014 title pairings as well as UFC lightweight Devin Powell in 2016. For Lockard, 2018 brought two wins and a loss to the former state champion wrestler all under the CES banner.

In the night’s main event featherweight Josh Harvey (6-0-1) looks to make his first title defence against import Jordan Downey (5-4). For Harvey, a return to NEF at home in February was able to net “Hook On” a first round stoppage win against vet Bill Jones to capture the belt. Lee Brothers MMA’s Downey has been able to start 2019 off on the right foot with two wins by finish spread out between Indiana and Nebraska.

NEF 39: All-American begins at 7 pm EST from the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine on June 22, 2019. Be sure to tune in to live fight coverage with Fight Night Picks here as well as on YouTube in the build-up to fight night!

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