Extra Points: Millville boxer plans to keep fighting
By DAVID WEINBERG
Thomas LaManna has no plans to stop fighting.
Despite suffering a first-round knockout loss last Saturday, the 29-year-old Millville boxer is not yet ready to hang up his gloves.
"Absolutely not," he said Friday. "The fight obviously didn't go the way I wanted, but it's not going to stop me."
LaManna (30-5-1, 12 KOs), a 2011 Millville High School graduate, was facing on two-time junior-middleweight champion Erislandy Lara for the WBA world middleweight title at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Lara (28-3-3, 16 KOs) registered the win in one minute, 20 seconds, sending LaManna to the canvas with a straight left that landed on his right ear. LaManna fell on his back, his head bouncing off the canvas. Referee Thomas Taylor stopped the bout without a count.
"It only lasted a minute, 20, so I've watched the replay about 80 times," LaManna said. "I'm not blaming anybody but myself for what happened. He caught me with a left earlier and I remember thinking, 'I just took his best shot. I'm going to beat the (bleep) out of him for the next 12 rounds.' But it didn't work out that way. He punched and I went out. It's boxing. It happens.
"I was 100 percent conscious the whole time and 100 percent OK. I went to the hospital afterward on my own just as a precaution and I was fine. The toughest part was that I had an opportunity to fight for a world title and I didn't really get a chance to show what I could do."
LaManna was attempting to join Bruce Seldon and the late Leavander Johnson as the only boxers from Atlantic, Cape May or Cumberland County to become world champions.
Seldon won the WBA heavyweight crown with a seventh-round TKO over Tony Tucker on April 8, 1995. He retained the title with a 10th-round TKO over Joe Hipp four months later before suffering a first-round TKO loss to Mike Tyson on Sept. 7, 1996.
Johnson became IBF lightweight champion on June 17, 2005 with a seventh-round TKO over Stefano Zoff. Exactly three months later, he lost via 11th-round TKO to Jesus Chavez. Johnson collapsed in his dressing room after the bout and died from head injuries five days later, on Sept. 22, 2005.
Two other local boxers came up short in title bids. Bridgeton light-heavyweight Richie Kates dropped a pair of controversial bouts against the late Victor Galindez in 1976 and 1977, respectively. Atlantic City's John Brown lost title challenges against Shane Mosley (IBF lightweight) and the late Diego Corrales (IBF super-featherweight) in 1999, then lost a pair of challenges against IBF super-featherweight champ Steve Forbes in 2000 and 2001.
LaManna, who was ranked sixth by the WBA at the time of his fight, is hoping to start his comeback in a few months while also serving as a promoter.
Rising Star Promotions, which was formed by him and mother Debbie LaManna, plans to reapply for a license with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board with the goal of hosting a card in August in Atlantic City.
Atlantic City has not held a boxing event since March of 2020. Philadelphia-based promoter Marvin Shuler is scheduled to have one at Showboat Hotel on May 27, according the Control Board's event calendar.
The Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts organization held three cards at Ocean Casino Resort the last three weeks and has three more scheduled for June.
While Atlantic City was closed for business, Rising Star staged three shows at sports bar in Mexico. LaManna fought on two of those cards, but wants to resume his career in the U.S..
"I've gotten to where I am by doing both, by promoting and fighting," he said. "And I want to continue to keep doing both. It took me a couple days to get over the loss, I'm not going to lie. But I'm not ready to stop fighting yet. I (got a title shot) once and I can do it again."