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Story by Frank Bartolini
Photo by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


The summer has already brought one big fight card to New Jersey boxing fans, and they will not have to travel far to watch more of their favorite pugilists later this season. Two more scheduled cards in the Garden State are slated to feature homegrown talent.

Last weekend, 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson headlined a well-attended (5,150), Top Rank promoted show at the Prudential Center in Newark. The city has nothing but love for Stevenson and loudly cheered the Olympic standout’s entrance into the arena. Pumped up for his homecoming celebration, Stevenson, 126 lbs., punched out Alberto Guervara, 125.4 lbs. of Mazatlan, Mexico, stopping him at 2:37 of the third round.

Southpaw Stevenson started fast dropping Guervara twice during the second before ending it the next stanza with a double right hook and straight left to the head. Stevenson, 12-0, 7 KOs called for a fight with IBF Featherweight champ Josh Warrington afterwards. Guervara returned south of the border with a 27-4 12 KO’s record.              

A bunch of North Jersey ticket sellers were also on the undercard, most prominently seventeen year old welterweight Vito Mielnicki, 146 lbs., of Roseland, NJ. The debuting Mielnicki dispatched Tamarcus Smith, 139 lbs., of Meridian, MS, 2-3, 2 KOs, in the first round. Mielnicki has a powerful build for a boxer his age and very quick hands. Press agent Marc Abrams indicated that the very popular Mielnicki sold over a thousand tickets (nearly 20% of all tickets sold). Mielnicki starts his senior year at West Essex High School this fall.                  

Entering his third year as a professional, popular John Bauza, North Bergen, NJ, continued padding his record against inferior competition. The former Roc Nation-promoted southpaw won a boring eight round decision over Angel Sarinana Gomez, Palacio, Mexico, in a junior welterweight contest. Bauza improved to 13-0 5 KOs, while Gomez remained above .500 at 10-9-2 4 KOs.

The show was televised by ESPN and ESPN+.                 


Atlantic City boxing savior, the LaManna family’s Rising Star Promotions, will stage two shows just two weeks apart at the Showboat Hotel. This Saturday, July 20, world rated Thomas LaManna headlines the night in a ten rounder. Two other local fan favorites, super welterweight Isiah Seldon and super middleweight Gabriel Pham will support the main event, in separate six rounders.

Rumor had it that LaManna was in negotiations to face former welterweight king Kell Brook on the undercard of Joshua vs. Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in June, but apparently Brook would not accept him as an opponent. Another rumor also circulated that LaManna was being considered for a bout with WBO junior middleweight champ Jamie Munguia. Perhaps that fight is still in his future, but rumors don’t pay the bills. So LaManna will headline on Saturday and keep his high hopes alive.


On August 3, Rising Star Promotions returns to the Showboat Hotel to host the return of the South Jersey / South Philly bantamweight prospect Christian Carto, who was considered the area’s hottest prospect with promoters from around the globe hoping to ink him. However, one punch from Mexican journeyman Victor Ruiz in February changed all that. Ruiz caught Carto with a shot to the chin that knocked him cold before he hit the canvas. The effect of the blow left Carto motionless on the canvas until he was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.

An opponent has yet to be named for Carto, now 17-1, 11 KOs. The popular attraction will attempt to begin another winning streak and wipe that shocking upset from his own, as well as everyone else’s memory. In the co-feature on August 3rd, super middleweight Derrick Webster, returns from a one sided loss to Lennox Allen.

LaManna, Carto, and Webster are big draws in New Jersey, and both these shows are likely to sell out.




Frank Bartolini - New Jersey - July 18, 2019