Thomas LaManna with his father, Vinny (Photo by Rob Scott).
Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna (19-1, 7 KOs) put on a dominant performance in his debut at 147 pounds on Saturday night, scoring a wide unanimous decision victory over Ariel Vasquez (11-11-2, 8 KOs) at The Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City.
“Tough fight. Tough, rugged guy who wasn’t try to go anywhere,” LaManna said of Vasquez. “He definitely was hurt a whole lot in the fight. But look, what happened happened. I’ll take a dominant win. At the end of the day, I’m 19-1 now and campaigning at welterweight, and the sky is the limit.”
LaManna had a distinct height and reach advantage in the bout, something that makes his decision to move to welterweight all the more intelligent after beginning his professional career as a middleweight. The Millville native set the table with his jab throughout the night, snapping a straight right hand behind it that was finding its way through the guard of Vasquez early and often.
In the second round, LaManna began to find a home for his uppercut when Vasquez came inside, also timing a lead right hand that the Nicaraguan repeatedly walked into when he stepped forward. In the third frame, LaManna landed his most significant punch to that point when he threw a jab, straight right hand combo that snapped back the neck of Vasquez. He then buzzed him with another right hand on the next exchange, and it looked like he could be on his way to a stoppage.
The lone setback of the night for LaManna occurred in the fourth round, when he was very questionably docked a point for a low blow, which ultimately made him hesitant to go back to the body in the second half of the fight. After the deduction, LaManna immediately exploded on Vasquez and had him in trouble when the bell eventually rang.
It was more of the same over the final four frames, with LaManna continuing to back Vasquez down and repeatedly placing a sharp right hand that was cracking back the head of his opposition. He remained in control of the action throughout, and the judges easily saw it in his favor once the eighth and final round concluded.
With counts of 79-72 (twice) and 78-73, LaManna scored the unanimous decision victory, making it a successful debut at 147 pounds. (Post-Fight Interview)
In a heavyweight co-feature, journeyman Willis Lockett (14-14-5, 5 KOs) was able to outpoint John Lennox (13-4, 5 KOs), using his short frame to stay on the body throughout the six-round encounter. Lennox was the better tactician of the two fighters, working behind the jab and using head movement, but Lockett did well off the bend and was repeatedly able to land overhand rights to the head of Lennox. While the blows did not seem to affect Lennox, they were unquestionably scoring, which led to an eventual unanimous decision win for Lockett with tallies of 59-55 (twice) and 58-56.
Philadelphia heavyweight Quian Davis (1-0-1, 1 KO) made quick work of North Carolina native Satario Holdbrooks (0-3), quickly bullying him into his own corner and pounding him to the body before switching levels and finishing him to the head. The official referee stoppage came just 26 seconds into the first frame.
Super welterweight Villi Bello (3-1-1, 1 KO) got a bit of a raw deal in a bout opposite local Vineland native Alshamar Johnson (1-1-1, 1 KO), being forced to settle for a split draw after the judges issued scores of 39-37, 37-39 and 38-38 in a four-round affair. While it was a competitive fight that saw both combatants giving and taking, Bello showed the better ring generalship, pressing the action and landing the cleaner shots.
In the opening bout of the evening, lightweight Luis Perozo (1-0, 1 KO) clocked in a successful professional debut, scoring a first round knockout of Davonta Steele. Perozo dropped Steele twice in the scrap, first with a counter right hook early in the opening frame. He then finished off Steele at the 2:11 mark of the first round by delivering a left hook to the body that left him unable to continue.