By Kurt Wolfheimer
Saturday night at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey, undefeated junior middleweight Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna (10-0, 6KO’s) returned to his hometown with a splash, scoring a one sided fourth round TKO of Cancun, Mexico’s Eric Hernandez Perez (2-3-1, 1KO) in the schedule six round main event of the evening. The six bout card promoted by Gulf Stream Boxing Promotions had a mixture of local talent matched against opponents from all over the east coast. The experienced match maker for the card was none other than “The boxing Diva” Renee Aiken.
The card was appropriately titled “The homecoming” and a homecoming it was for the Millville, New Jersey junior middleweight Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, who had a large contingent of fans there to cheer him on.
LaManna entered the ring with a Millville High school senior shirt on to recognize his hometown and when he was announced the three hundred or so fans in attendance, cheered voraciously for the first time all evening. It was clear that most in attendance had come to see LaManna display the talents that had made him a fan favorite in the New Jersey region and a BAM Champion.
His opponent on this evening was Eric Hernandez Perez, who came into the ring with a modest record of 2-2-1, who had drew in his last bout with Danny Garcia (10-7-2, 7KO’s) and looked to pull and upset and send the raucous crowd home disappointed.
Perez seemed content right from the opening bell to press the attack as LaManna tried to feel him out. The much smaller Perez was aggressive throughout, but LaManna for the most part, found his mark with long glancing hooks, using his superior reach advantage. Whenever the hometown hero was caught on the ropes, he would spin Perez around and counter with combinations, but they just weren’t landing cleanly. In round two though, Cornflake did send Perez to the canvas with a short left right. It was more of a flash knockdown as Perez immediately was on his feet and back on the attack. The attacks however were mostly arm punches and LaManna was never ion any real danger as the bout progressed.
“I hadn’t sparred in three weeks because I got cut while sparring with Jesse Hart and had to let it heal. I felt like I was a rusty and getting frustrated that I couldn’t land cleanly. My corner told me to be aggressive and it worked,” said LaManna.
LaManna took control in the fourth as he backed Perez up with a big overhand right. The punch knocked out Perez’s mouthpiece and Cornflake would not give him a moments rest as he poured it on with combination after combination. When the bout was halted for a moment to put the mouthpiece back in Perez was a bloody mess. His nose was bleeding profusely and blood was splashed everywhere. Once the action began again, LaManna forced the withering Perez back to the ropes and unleashed a bristling five punch combination. Perez looked defenseless as referee Lindsay Page called a halt to the contest at 2:04 of the fourth round.
“It felt great to win in front of my hometown crowd,” said LaManna “He kept coming forward just like the last fighter I fought. The pressure I put on really made the difference in the end.”
The co-feature of the evening was a bit of a sleeper as Jon “The Dark Knight” Bolden (6-55KO’s) plodded his way through a sloppy, but workmanlike six round unanimous decision victory over Dennis “The Truth” Benson (1-5, 1KO).
Bolden was clearly the better fighter and even wobbled the wilder swinging Benson in the closing moments of the second round. Benson clinched and survived the round. From that point on both fighters seemed to tire. Bolden looked to take the third off and clinched heavily which forced referee Allan Huggins to take a point.
Benson had also tired and began to fight with only the occasional single shot while Bolden popped a few lighter combinations on the inside as the bout slowed to a crawl throughout rounds three through five.
Both fighters began to swing away as the sixth and final round began, but Bolden settled back into his boxing mentality and methodically boxed with hooks while on the inside to take the round safely and the fight.
The scores were announced with Jon Bolden easily taking the unanimous decision victory by odd scores of 59-56 and 58-55 x 2. Camden, New Jersey junior middleweight Gilbert Sanchez looked impressive in moving to 2-1, 2KO’s, dropping formerly undefeated Nasser Abdel Malik (1-1, 1KO) of Carey, North Carolina, twice en-route to a second round stoppage of their scheduled four round contest.
Sanchez landed a short right on the on the chin while on the inside, which sent Nasser Abdel Malik to the canvas thirty seconds into the bout. Malik rose to his feet and quickly recovered. Sanchez again went back to pressuring Malik who was able to escape without further damage in the opening round.
It would all change again though as Gilbert Sanchez again returned Malik to the canvas again in the second. This time it was from a chopping overhand right. Malik rose to his feet, but the Camden native battered him from one corner to corner with a good mix of heavy hooks to the body and combinations up top. Malik ended the round with his hands down and gasping for breath. The bout was stopped in the corner giving Gilbert Sanchez the much deserved TKO victory at 3:00 minutes of the second round. Highly touted former amateur superstar Antoine Douglas of Burke, Virginia was put to the test in the early going by a debuting New York middleweight Carlos Lopez, as both had heated exchanges throughout the opening round. Douglas appeared to be a tad faster and his blows seemed to have more steam.
Douglas began to take over in the second stanza as he wobbled Lopez with a left hook that slowed down the exchanges. Lopez switched to southpaw and quickly regained his senses before going back to orthodox.
The heavy hands of Douglas were again banging away when he suddenly got caught with a solid counter and he took a step back, making him a tad more cautious. Late in the third round though, Antoine Douglas again wobbled the New York native with a heavy combination up top. Lopez tried to clinch but fell during the break. It was ruled a slip but Lopez was clearly hurt. Douglas tried to finish the job but Lopez again clinched. This time he wouldn’t release, when ordered by referee Allan Huggins, forcing him to take a point for holding.
Lopez had another point taken for holding in the fourth and looked to be in survival mode. Douglas caught him with an uppercut and Lopez’s head popped up while he had his back to the ropes, but he didn’t appear to be rocked. Surprisingly, Referee Allan Huggins stepped in and called a halt to the bout at 1:34 of the fourth round.
Antoine Douglas ups his record to 2-0, 2KO’s, while Carlos Lopez slips to 0-1. Both fighters showed talent well beyond the records.
Undefeated heavyweight Amir Shabazz of the “Fighting city of brotherly love,” Philadelphia PA remained undefeated at 2-0, 1KO with a workmanlike four round unanimous decision victory over Queens, New York’s Abdellah Smith (1-4, 1KO).
Shabazz came out strong and won many of the exchanges in the opening round but he settled into boxing on the outside for the next three rounds to capture every round on all three of the judges’ scorecards (40-36 x 3). Smith could only land the wild single haymakers in spots, but never could mount enough of an attack to win any round.
In the opening bout of the evening Joshua Nieves (1-2, 1KO) of Isabela, Puerto Rico captured his first victory in three tries with a first round stoppage of Bridgton, New Jersey’s Moses Molina (1-2, 1KO). Nieves pounced on Molina right from the opening bell. Molina tried to counter and cover to weather the storm but in mid-round, Nieves pushed him to the corner and caught him with a right up top. Molina covered but Nieves smelled blood and mixed in hard body work with his hooks up top. Molina was not returning fire and after seven unanswered shots, referee Allan Huggins had seen enough and stepped in to call a halt to the bout at the 2:36 mark of the opening round.