PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 10, 2015                                                              
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Story / Interview by John DiSanto
File Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. & Ray Bailey


Millville, NJ middleweight, Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, 16-0, 7 KOs, fights the biggest bout of his burgeoning career Friday night when he takes on Antoine “Action” Douglas, 16-0-1, 10 KOs, in a nationally televised 10-round bout for the vacant WBA Fedelatin 160-pound title, at The Space at Westbury, in New York. Showtime will broadcast the bout live on their SHOBOX series. 

The fight is a significant step up for LaManna, a 4-year pro who in 2014 showed signs that he was ready for tougher competition.  Friday night he gets his chance to step into the spotlight and show fans outside the Philly/Jersey area what he’s made of. 

LaManna has been a staple on the local boxing scene ever since he turned professional in 2011 at age 19.  He made his debut at Bally’s Atlantic City with a first round TKO of Anthony Williams.  That night, LaManna looked like a kid in the squared circle, but it was also clear that he was serious about his boxing career. 

From that instant on it was as if LaManna was the honorary little brother of the Philly fight scene – easy to root for and full of promise.  He was still growing into his six-foot, two-inch frame and still developing his fighting skills.  But he was toughening up and maturing right before our eyes. 

He also had one of the best nicknames in the sport. 

Cornflake fought six times in his rookie year, winning them all, four by knockout. By the end of 2013, LaManna was 13-0, 7 KOs, and ready for his first step up. 

In 2014, LaManna went 3-0, including a crossroads showdown with West Philly warhorse Jamaal Davis.  Davis represented Cornflake’s toughest foe up to that point, having previously faced many top pros like Peter Quillin, Gabriel Rosado, Yuri Foreman, and others.  As expected, Davis seriously tested the young fighter.

In the first half of the bout, LaManna found himself in a real battle with the old pro, who came to Atlantic City in better shape and more motivated than he had been in years.  Davis approached the fight as a must-win, and put LaManna through the paces, introducing him, perhaps for the first time, to the more difficult side of the sport. 

LaManna fell behind in the bout, but fought back hard.  Everyone watched as Thomas took control of the fight little by little.  By the end, our little brother had completely grown up, and Cornflake claimed the 8-round unanimous decision against the still-dangerous Davis. 

LaManna closed the year with another win that pushed his record to its current 16-0 with 7 KOs.  Now 23-years old and ready for bigger and better things in the ring, LaManna gets a prime opportunity against Douglas on Friday night to climb to the next level of his chosen profession. 

I sat down with Thomas LaManna last Friday night at South Philly’s 2300 Arena after his teammates Joey Dawejko and Jason Sosa both registered knockout victories of their own.    

Thomas LaManna with his father Vinny LaManna - Photo by Ray Bailey

Cornflake is a great nickname.  How did you get it? 

LAMANNA:  I got “Cornflake” from my friend Bryne Green.  He’s a fighter; he’s fought on local cards.  When I first started boxing, I was the only white fighter in the gym.  I was surrounded by black, Mexican, and Puerto Rican fighters.  A ‘cornflake’ has a light center surrounded by a brown outer (edge).  So that’s exactly what it was like in the gym.  So that’s how I got it.” 

Antoine Douglas is a good fighter with a similar record to yours.  How do you feel about taking this step up?  

LAMANNA:  “I feel great about the fight.  I train entirely too hard to have any doubt that I’m going to be victorious.  I felt that at this stage in my career, I needed this fight to see where I’m at, just like the Jamaal Davis fight.  I needed that fight at that point in my career, and two fights later, here we are. 

It’s a good match up. 

LAMANNA:  “Two undefeated fighters fighting each other - young undefeated fighters - 23 years old, 16-0, - fighting each other.  That’s something big in boxing. And as a boxing fan, I think that’s what boxing needs more of.” 

This is your first time on national television.  Do you feel pressure to impress everyone? 

LAMANNA:  “Definitely I feel like I got to show out, only because it’s against another undefeated, young, hungry fighter.  The whole TV, SHOBOX, and fighting out of New Jersey, all that just comes with the territory.  Eventually I knew it was going to happen.  TV and all that stuff, it won’t phase me.  I still have friends and family coming to support me, but I definitely feel that I have to show out because it’s another young, undefeated fighter who doesn’t know how to lose.  Just like myself.  And that’s very dangerous.” 

Do you consider this step up a whole new chapter in your career? 

LAMANNA:  “Yeah, it’s a huge step up.  This fight will definitely change my life – either way you look at it.  Win, lose, or draw, a star is going to be born.  What can I say?  I can only pray and hope that after next Friday, bigger and better things will come along.”

LaManna against Alex Perez - Photo by Darryl Cobb, Jr.

You went away for training camp with Joey Dawejko, Jason Sosa and Tevin Farmer.  You guys are really like team.  How did it go? 

LAMANNA:  “Training camp was so beautiful.  We’re like one big family.  It’s definitely given me an ego booster, a confidence booster.  We pushed each other hard in camp.  We made each other work, we got up with each other in the morning to go run.  We did our strength work together, and it was just beautiful.  It definitely is a big push and motivation to do the right things to get ready for the fight.  As you can see today, Joey and Sosa looked very good.  They got their wins, and it was outstanding.” 

How does that team atmosphere affect your performance in the ring? 

LAMANNA:  “It put in my brain that this is what it takes to get to the next level. John, I feel so great.  I’m in great shape.  I’m at fight weight already, and now I know what it really feels like, and that (team) had a big part in it.” 

If you win Friday night, you’ll be at that next level.  What then?    

LAMANNA:  “Eventually I want to be a world champion.  I’m not in this just to win.  I’m not in this for a little minor payday.  I’m in this to be the best I can possibly be.  Just like my last 16 fights, March 13th will be another day in the office.  I’m just going to go in and do what I do best.”




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - March 10, 2015
Photos by Ray Bailey & Darryl Cobb, Jr.