No active boxer has represented South Jersey more prominent and proudly in recent years than Thomas "Cornflake" LaManna, who continues to literally fight the good fight in Atlantic City but has also taken to promoting his own shows. As he calls his own shots, he could've sought a much easier route for his next outing, which kicks off the "Boarwalk Boxing" series.
Instead, he views the event from a fan's perspective in securing a tough opponent for his next ring appearance.
A four-fight win streak and a path toward title contention is at stake as Lamanna will take on Brooklyn's Gabriel "Tito" Bracero in a scheduled 10-round welterweight clash atop the inaugural Boardwalk Boxing series, which takes place February 24 at Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The event will be presented by Rising Star Promotions, the company which Lamanna founded in Dec. '15 and has since taken the lead in attempting to revive the once-thriving boxing scene in Atlantic City. A big part of that comes in creating matchups the fans want to see—even if it means putting his own neck on the line, both in and out of the ring.
"This is a crossroads fight," acknowledges Lamanna (25-2, 9KOs), who for the 18th time in his career will fight in Atlantic City, less than an hour from his hometown of Millville, New Jersey. "(Bracero) needs a win over me to stay relevant, and I need a win over him to be taken serious. He has fought some top guys. His losses have been to world champions and Gold Medal winners. He has been around the block.
"I want to start 2018 with a good test. I want to test myself. When I go through a hard camp, dieting and focusing, I want it to be worth it. A win over him will give me an opportunity as I will move up in the ratings. This is a make or break year, and a win will put me in there with other contenders."
Lamanna has won four straight, all coming in an active four-fight 2017 campaign. His most recent victory came last November, scoring a 10-round shutout of durable journeyman Samuel Amoako at Claridge Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.
In Bracero (24-3, 5KOs), he takes on arguably his toughest foe to date. The scrappy Brooklynite—who turns 37 in February, has dropped two of his last three starts but coming in tough matchups versus top contender Felix Diaz and—most recently last August—former two-division world champion Paul Malignaggi.
Mixed in are notable victories over former contender-turned-promoter Dmitry Salita and two over previously unbeaten Danny O'Connor, including a sensational 1st round knockout in their Oct. '15 rematch which rated among the year's top knockouts.
"This will be a good fight; he is a tough kid," notes Bracero, who plans to bring a sizable following from Brooklyn. "He is tall, and I will get into the best shape possible. I am excited to finally be fighting in Atlantic City. I have family there, plus my fans from Brooklyn can drive there and spend a nice weekend.
"This fight is a true crossroads battle. He is looking to make his name off of me, and I am focusing on winning his WBC Fecarbox title. A win will get me back into the bigger fights."
Local favorites DeCarlo Perez and Anthony "Juice" Young grace a full undercard among the 12-fight card. Young (18-2, 6KOs) takes on Massachusetts' Khlary Clay (15-3, 11KOs) in a scheduled eight-round welterweight battle, while Perez will face an opponent to be named in a six-round super middleweight clash.