Combat sports make their return to Maine this weekend

PORTLAND, ME - MAY 14: Bob Russo works with boxer Wade Faria, 22, of South Portland, at Portland Boxing Club in Portland on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Russo was named president of Golden Gloves of America. (Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer)

Casey Streeter moved around the ring quickly, ducking and blocking punches thrown by Wade Faria, his sparring partner. Streeter tried to shake off two years of rust with every jab.

Streeter’s last fight was Nov. 9, 2019, and when he gets into the ring Saturday night at the Portland Expo to fight Khiary Gray, the longest break between fights in Streeter’s professional boxing career will be over. That he gets to fight at the Expo, his favorite venue, in front of the hometown crowd, is a bonus.

“I love fighting at the Expo. It’s always a great atmosphere,” Streeter said.

Since the start of the pandemic, combat sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts have been on pause in Maine. That changes this weekend, with a pair of events in Portland. On Friday, Aura, a venue in the Old Port, will host NEF 45: Uprising, an MMA event organized by New England Fights, a Lewiston-based fight promotions company. Saturday night at the Expo, longtime Portland boxing trainer and promoter Bob Russo will put on a fight card.

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