|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - September 25, 2015
Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, 17-1, 7 KOs, will be chasing career victory number eighteen on Saturday night when he steps into the ring with experienced Ayi Bruce, 23-10, 15 KOs, under a tent, at Beach Haven Memorial Park, in Beach Haven, NJ. However, this beachside battle is not only another opportunity for LaManna to get past his only career setback (against Antoine Douglas back in March), the fight with Bruce is also a chance for Cornflake to test the waters in a lower weight class, where he feels he will be more competitive.
“I’m not effective at 160 (pounds),” LaManna said. “The Antoine Douglas fight really solidified that I’m not a middleweight. My shots weren’t effective and when we were in the ring, he was just so much bigger than me. He just over-powered me.”
Douglas, a rising star in the middleweight division, manhandled LaManna in their scheduled eight-rounder. Cornflake was full of fight that night, but was seriously out-gunned by the budding contender.
“Even in my last fight against Josh Robertson,” LaManna continued. “I watched that fight three or four times, and I’m hitting this guy with everything and the kitchen sink. I was hurting him, but that’s all I was doing. Hurting him. If I couldn’t get him out of there with the shots I was hitting him with over the eight rounds, I have to go down (in weight).”
The pride of Millville, NJ, plans to tip the scales at 152 pounds for his catch-weight fight with Bruce, indicating that his ultimate goal is to skip the junior middleweight division completely and land at welterweight before too long.
“I feel 154 is too easy to make, which it is,” LaManna said. “I left the gym today at 156, and I still have a couple days to go until the weigh in. So I think 147, once I get there and healthy, is the way to go.”
At six-feet, two-inches, LaManna has set a pretty challenging goal for himself, but feels that the move down is what he needs to do to keep his career headed in the right direction.
“I haven’t had to cut weight in the past two or three years,” LaManna said. “I feel really good. I’m trying to restart were I ended with the Antoine fight. I’m trying to get that fight out of my system. I don’t think about it. I don’t dwell on it. He was the better man that night. I have no shame in losing to a guy like that. In a lot of people’s eyes, in the media’s eyes, he is probably one of the next best things in boxing. So I don’t have any shame losing to him. I just want to get that out of my head. I just want to come back and I want good fights, the fights that will build me to the place I want to be. Ayi Bruce is going to build me to where I know I need to be.”
Bruce is a veteran originally from Accra, Ghana who has provided tests for Philly fighters like Gabriel Rosado and Raymond Serrano, as well as out-of-towners Vitaliy Demyanenko, Ishe Smith, Glen Tapia, Emmanuel Taylor and many others. Bruce’s biggest career win was an upset ten-round decision over Shamone Alvarez in 2010. Ayi has been losing more than winning in recent years, but still represents a risk for LaManna, especially given Cornflake’s experiment with dropping weight.
“I’m expecting a tough guy to be there,” LaManna said. “Let his hand go, show me veteran tactics. Jamaal Davis (whom LaManna defeated by decision) showed me the most veteran moves so far. Davis is a better all-around fighter than Bruce. Bruce is more laid back, chill. He’ll counter punch you. He’ll wait for you to make a mistake and then capitalize on it. So I got to be on my Ps and Qs with that.”
Still on the comeback trail, it is important that LaManna not stumble in a fight like this.
“It came up on short notice,” LaManna said. “Every fight is important to me, especially this one against a tough guy, but it’s more of a stay-busy fight. After my last fight (August 7), I went to Puerto Rico for a couple weeks, but I was out there with Jason Sosa and we were still training. So I stayed in shape and when they asked me if I wanted to fight, it’s only a six-round fight, I said yeah, why not?”
Despite the decrease in weight, LaManna looks forward to the size advantage he expects to have against Bruce.
“He’s a lot smaller than me,” LaManna said. “He’s going to be a lot smaller than me in the ring, and that’s going to be the first time in two or three years that I’m the bigger guy. Every guy I’ve fought, I’m not the bigger guy. Maybe I’m taller, but I’m not the bigger guy, the strong guy. This one I’m going to be bigger, so I’d like to see what I’m going to do.”
LaManna vs. Bruce tops the outdoor, eight-bout card, scheduled for Saturday, September 26th, 5:30 pm, at the Jersey Shore.