By Lou McLaughlin: Millville New Jersey’s streaking light middle weight prospect Thomas “Cornflake” Lamanna takes his unbeaten record 9 (KO 5) to fight for the first time in his hometown of Millville, N.J. on November 10th taking on Erick Hernandez Perez at the New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, New Jersey. LaManna had hoped to fight at his old high school but for reasons unknown to him the school board decided not to move forward with fight. This was an enormous disappointment to LaManna. Fortunately, the New Jersey Motorsports Park of Millville stepped forward as a venue and rescued the fight card. Thomas’s opponent Perez‘s last fight in September was a draw against an 18 fight veteran Daniel Garcia. LaManna began his pro career February 11, 2011 and in the 21 months since has racked up 9 impressive wins fighting every 2-3 months. Thomas has fast tracked his way through 6 four round fights in 2011. Beginning 2012 he entered 6 round competitions and was finishing with energy to spare. He generously took time from his training and pre-fight activities for an interview with me.
Q- I was at your fight in February at Nutley High School. That was billed as a homecoming fight. Are you originally from Nutley or Millville. Either way you’re listed on Boxingrec.com as from Millville. ?
A-I was born in Nutley we moved when I was six so I’ve been in Millville as long as I can remember.
Q-Share your thoughts on fighting where you live.
A-It’s crazy! Words cannot describe what is going on inside of me. I try not thinking about it too much because I don’t want to over drain myself. But fighting in Millville is a dream come true and three days before my 21st birthday. I never thought it would happen. But my promoter Vincent Ponte and my manager my Dad really pulled through. I want to give a BIG THANKS to the New Jersey Motorsports Park the venue for allowing me the opportunity. The Millville Board of Education shot it down. I’m a Millville graduate and a professional athlete. They shut the show down for whatever reason. I give huge thanks to the Motorsports Park for giving me the opportunity.
Q-You had your professional debut and four other fights in Atlantic City. What’s more pressure Atlantic City or in front of one of your hometowns Nutley or Millville?
A-Definitely in front of the hometown of Millville. Because its home. Atlantic City is huge but faceless. I’ve fought there a few times. But it doesn’t compare to my hometown. Ask me that question when I fight in Las Vegas and maybe I’ll have a different answer. Also the show is called “birthday Bash” for a reason. My 21st birthday is November 12th. So the pressure is huge. For me to really enjoy celebrating mu birthday I have to win.
Q- What do you know about Erick Hernandez Perez your November 10th opponent?
A-We fought on the same card once in Arkansas and I’ve seen a little tape on him. All I can say is expect fireworks. Everybody that looks at his record 2-2-1 and they see his weight. He is small guy coming up to 152 and I’m coming down to 152. In my last fight with Yolexcy Leiva I struggled to make 157. I had to lose 13 pounds in 5 days. But with my added conditioning with Danny Davis who has trained Bernard Hopkins my weight is good, my conditioning is excellent and I’m able to make the fight at 152. Erick is a tough Mexican fighter. People can say what they want about him. But I know who I’m getting in that ring with. The fans are going to see a great fight.
Q- Perez is from Batesville, Arkansas where you fought and won your sixth pro fight in your only out of state test so far. What’s up with you and Batesville, Arkansas?
A-I don’t know. But just because someone is from Arkansas doesn’t mean anything. My fight with Josh Williams from Arkansas –he gave me a run for my money. I hate when people think that way. Perez was a three time amateur champion. He has been trained by Canelo Alvarez’s trainer in the same gym as Canelo.
Q- You’ve been pretty active since turning pro-you had 6 four rounders in 2011. 2012 saw you graduate to 6 rounds (I saw the first one at Nutley High) this upcoming November 10th fight is your fourth going six rounds. Is 2013 going to be 8 rounds and maybe 10’s? You have any timeline in mind?
A-Absolutely, I said to my father a few weeks ago Wow! This my fourth fight this year. I like being more active. My Dad asked me if I wanted to go eight for this one. But I said I want to do another six because of my last performance. I felt that I did not give a great performance against Leiva. I survived the sixth round but I was drained, I was weak. In the fight before that against Sean Rawley Wilson I was great, I was in superior shape. Against Crabtree I was getting stronger as the fight went on and I stopped him. I want to do another six then step it up to eight. Hopefully, 2013 will be a huge year for me with eights and tens. We’ll know after Saturday and just keep it going you know HBO, Showtime.
Q-I see that your Father has managed boxers what inspired you to give it a go?
A-I was born into it, with my father managing boxers. My father never wanted me to fight. He wanted me to be a manager or a promoter but I said I wanted to start boxing. When I was in middle school I came from being bullied and getting picked on. So I tried different stuff. I tried football thinking I could tackle people, hit people. I tried basketball thinking maybe I could out dunk people. I tried Karate with all the contact. But it all didn’t work. So I tried boxing. So my Dad said let him go to the gym get his ass whupped and come back home and go back on the football field. Here I am eight years later.
Q-This one may be a controversial question but I’m going to ask. What are your thoughts on being somewhat of a minority in this sport being Italian American?
A- Just because I’m Italian. That’s just me –look at Paulie Malignaggi he’s a champion of the world. Skin color has nothing to do with it. Look at me I’m Italian my girlfriend is black. Is that wrong? It is what it is. It’s just a skin color. Look at Vinnie Pazienza, Jake Lamotta all Italian champions. It’s no pressure. Definitely, you get looked at more, you are in the front of the line of being called out there’s no if’s, ands or buts about that. It comes with the territory. Hey! You have to know how to fight if you’re nicknamed “Cornflake”.
Q- Are you still trained by Hassan Hamid-El?
A-yes, I am still trained by Hassan.
Q-I saw on Facebook that you spent time out in Nevada with Floyd Mayweather. What was that like? Did you get to spar with him or any of the other name fighters in his camp?
A-I didn’t get to spar Floyd. But I did spar with Jermaine Jones-Floyd’s right hand man. A big guy who holds the body building contests. But it was great being around Floyd’s team.
Q-How would you describe your style?
A-Boxer / puncher, whatever gets the job done. I hate the fact that I’m 6’ 1” because the style that I have because the crafts in my arsenal are for a guy 5’ 10” or so. I’ve been in two or three training camps with Gabriel Rosado-he is mandatory for the IBF title, I learned a lot from him. I learned a lot of things from Bernard Hopkins. I was sparring with his nephew Demetrius and Bernard came up to me giving me advice. I really can’t explain my style, I like switching it up. I like making adjustments in the ring, making adjustments in my sparring, my training. If I want to brawl I’m a brawler, if I want to box I’m a boxer. If I want to run I’m a runner. Whatever gets the job done
Q-Obviously, Floyd would be a fighter that you would admire and try to emulate. What other big names out there are influences on you or that you are a fan of?
A-I look up to Gabriel Rosado because he taught me so much. I learned so much from trainer Billy Briscoe. They taught me the ins and outs of old school boxing. Bernard Hopkins is a guy I look up to. Floyd I admire. Ray Mercer is like a brother to me
Q- You’re tall listed as 6’ 1” fighting as light middleweight. You’re also I believe turning 21 two days after this next fight. How long you plan to stay at this weight as you’ll most likely fill out more now that you’re maturing.
A-I could be good at 154 for a while another year or two. Eventually, I’ll go to 160, 168 and we’ll see what happens
Q- Of your 9 wins (5 KO) what was your most personally satisfying fight? Along the same line which of your performances was the least satisfying to you?
A-My best fight was against Daniel Crabtree. I felt great I was well rounded. I consider that fight flawless. I watch the tape and see a whole different me. I came off a great training camp. The least satisfying was Yolexcy Leiva I wasn’t in my best shape I came in there and just survived I didn’t put on a great performance like I know I can do. If I have a rematch with him I know he’ll go nighty night. I learned from my mistakes
Q-Predictions for next Saturday night?
A-No, everything is going to happen in the square circle. I’m not going to say I’m going to knock him out. I’ll say I’ll hopefully win. That’s my prediction. I’ll be damned if anything is going to stop me. It’s going to be crazy. I know I’ve put the work in. I went to Philadelphia twice a week for four weeks. I know Bernard Hopkins came up to me for a reason. I know with the sparring partners I was getting the work in. My confidence is beyond the roof but not cocky
Q-It must be great for a young guy like yourself to be enjoying the local celebrity status as a professional athlete-your thoughts. I’ve noticed on Facebook that you have been active in speaking at schools. Tell me more about what civic minded causes you are getting involved in due to your name recognition.
A-Basically that’s been the main thing. “Scared Straight” is great thing. We go to high school and middle schools. We try to scare kids to make them make the right choices. When I was in high school I made some poor choices. I tell every kid that I mentor that I don’t want my past to become their future. I’m lucky to be where I am now because I put in the work, I put in the dedication. The people on my team-my father, my promoter, and my trainer, they didn’t put in all the work that they do if they didn’t think there was something special in me. I tell everybody work hard and great things will come your way
Q-Anything you want to say to your family, friends, or fans?
A-Definitely, a shout out to all of Millville. Millville has been supportive of me. My team, my father. My coach, ATG radio, my boxing family in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather’s “Money Team”
WHERE: New Jersey Motorsports Park
8000 Dividing Creek Road, Millville, NJ 08332.
Tickets for this exciting evening of boxing on November 10th are priced at $125 (VIP which includes a meet and greet with former world champions Steve Cunningham & Ray Mercer); $75 and $50 and can be bought by calling (856) 327-8000 & (856) 899-7273
New Jersey Motorsports Park located at 8000 Dividing Creek Road.