Extra Points: Lamanna Loss Highlights Problems in Boxing
Millville junior-middleweight boxer Thomas LaManna spent Monday afternoon enjoying the attractions on the Wildwood Boardwalk with his 2-year-old daughter, Brooklyn.
"My biggest win," LaManna wrote on Facebook while Brooklyn was perched atop a horse on the merry-go-round at Morey's Pier.
Two days earlier, he got taken for a ride in Los Angeles and wound up suffering a disappointing loss.
LaManna (28-4-1, 10 KOs) delivered a solid performance against Brian Mendoza (19-1, 13 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in L.A. as part of a Premier Boxing Champions card, but wound up suffering a 10-round, unanimous decision defeat.
It wasn't the loss that bothered him as much as the ridiculous scoring from two of the three judges. Edward Hernandez Sr. and Pat Russell both gave Mendoza a 98-92 advantage - Steve Morrow had it 96-94 - meaning they thought LaManna won just two of the 10 rounds.
"I definitely thought I won the fight," LaManna said. "I'll argue all day long that I won it 96-94 or 97-93. At worst, it was a draw. But 98-92? That's a disgrace. That's what's wrong with boxing."
LaManna said he was denied a round-by-round copy of the scorecards afterward, but was told it would be mailed to him.
He plans on appealing the decision to the California State Athletic Commission. Getting it overturned is unlikely, but the commission and/or World Boxing Association - LaManna is ranked 13th by the WBA at 154 pounds - could order a rematch.
The fight, which was broadcast on FS1, was an exciting, thrilling bout. Both LaManna and Mendoza connected with big punches in the first two rounds.
LaManna appeared to control the middle rounds, controlling the pace with his boxing skills and landing right hands, while Mendoza came on strong down the stretch. Both suffered cuts due to accidental headbutts.
"I know it was closer than the scorecard said," Mendoza said during a post fight interview on FS1. "It was a close fight and I felt like I just wanted it. f anything it was all heart that I got that fight. I literally said, 'N'o, I refuse to let this one go.'"
The fight took place on the undercard of WBA 154-pound champion Erislandy Lara's 12-round, unanimous decision over Greg Vendetti.
Nine years ago, Lara was on the wrong end one of the most outrageous miscarriages of boxing justice in Atlantic City. Ironically, LaManna was on the undercard.
On July 9, 2011, Lara seemingly dominated the late Paul Williams at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall's Adrian Phillips Ballroom and on HBO. Every ringside observer believed Lara earned the victory except judges Al Bennett, Donald Givens and Hilton Whitaker Jr.
Bennett scored the bout a 114-114 draw, Givens had it 116-114 for Williams and Whitaker favored Williams 115-114. Former New Jersey Athletic Control Board Commissioner Aaron Davis responded to the public outcry by suspending the three judges indefinitely.
Bennett, who is still an active judge at age 72, wound up serving a three-year penalty. Givens was out of judging for four years. Whitaker was inactive for just 15 months.
Sometimes even the best judges make mistakes through no fault of their own.
In 1999, Atlantic City's Jean Williams was among the three judges assigned to the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight championship fight at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Williams scored the fight 115-113 for Holyfield, Stanley Christodoulou of South Africa had it 116-113 for Lewis and Larry O'Connell of Great Britain had it 115-115.
Williams, who was inducted into the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame in 2018, caught considerable flak for her scoring, but later explained to me that she had a horrible view of the action. Though she was sitting at ringside, her view was obstructed by photographers. At one point, she tried sitting on a table. Often, she was shoving photographers out of her line of sight.
One way to possibly eliminate similar controversies would be to change the sitting arrangements for judges in both boxing and MMA events. Simply have them rotate seats at the end of each round to give them different views of the action.
Current New Jersey Control Board Commissioner Larry Hazzard and Deputy Attorney General Nick Lembo have experimented with the judging process through the years. They were the first to implement a system that had a fourth judge watching the fight on a TV monitor in a room away from the ring/cage and submit a scorecard.
Maybe using such strategies won't eliminate judging errors in boxing, but it could provide some consistency and stability so that fighters like LaManna won't wind up getting penalized.
If he was going to feel nauseous, it should have been from riding the spinning tea cups on the Wildwood Boardwalk.