Thomas Lamanna is a boxing champion in a sport that revolves around opportunity as fighters will go with their instincts. He won a sanctioned WBA championship in Mexico last weekend.
The Coronavirus pandemic placed promoters and a good many fighters in a bad position, as getting opportunities have been rare with the exception of those that are fortunate to be with Top Rank, the PBC, Matchroom, and Golden Boy.
In boxing this is called a fight to survive. For many fighters the lack of opportunities has caused a shift in direction and some have quit the sport while others are relying on other sources of income to make ends meet.
Despite a lack of fight cards and the few that have managed to proceed, with limited or no fans at venues, this is a fight to survive with a passion to continue. Boxing is their ,as it is for Thomas Lamanna.
It’s a life of getting up early and going to the gym. It’s waiting for the call and signing the contract for the next opponent. They prepare and anticipate to get another win and hopefully move up a notch in the rankings with the various sanctioning organizations.
But 29-year old Thomas “Cornflake” Lamanna is different from other fighters. He did it his way.
The junior middleweight, based in Millville New Jersey, notched his second consecutive knockout win and took care of Juan de Jesus Angulo in the 5th round at La Terraza Sport Bar in Agua Prieta, Mexico in a fight that was streamed live on Facebook as a main event.
He sustained a fractured right wrist in the second round and will take some time off and enjoy the championship with his family. Then it will be back to work as his own promoter and making a decision to defend the title or await an opportunity to fight some of the elite fighters at 164.
Yes, it wasn’t a major title for the WBA Fedecentro belt. Perhaps this is another in those categories of an alphabet soup title that comprises so many divisions in boxing. What matters more importantly, is a championship earned and a step up the ladder with a ranking from the WBA and a chance to fight for more at 154.
“I needed to get something quick to make up for it.” he said. “Just want to keep myself busy and stay active. I’m grateful to be respected and looked out for by the sanctioning bodies.”
Lamanna earned the title with knowledge of the sport and used his own resources as a fighter-promoter. He is a fighter with the smarts to get it done and that’s what matters considering there were no opportunities in the states, or at a boardwalk casino in Atlantic City, N.J. where he is well known and put on some good fight cards as a young promoter.
Lamanna said his plan went into motion after his scheduled fight in December was cancelled due to testing positive for COVID. He could not train, so he went with those instincts.
The WBA was the lone sanctioning body that went with his plan. Lamanna pitched them about promoting a show under his responsibility. He organized the undercard and the procedures of COVID testing protocols at a closed door venue.
But the logistics of putting this together were not easy. Then again, Lamanna is a boxing mind and has been around all aspects of the sport. He learned as he got in the ring and got a boost being around a family that took an interest in his career.
After talking with longtime friend Lou Dedubas, who helped Lamanna get fights over the span of the past 10 years, the title fight was arranged at 160 after training for five weeks. Lamanna could not make weight at 154, in a division where he plans to be ranked and hopefully get an opportunity under the WBA rankings.
“Was only a matter of time to get back in,” he said. “ Grateful to the WBA for getting me back in. I wanted to move myself rapidly for a good spot in the beginning of the year.”
Back in August, on a PBC FOX Fight card at the Microsoft Theatre bubble in Los Angeles, Lamanna lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Brian Mendoza but earned more respect with a valiant effort. The fight also earned him that needed exposure.
It definitely opened up the door to more opportunity and after a subsequent fight, a KO loss in October to Jorge Pimenel, Lamanna looked at his options.
Boxing was not staying still and neither was Thomas Lamanna. He learned how to survive and continue during a global pandemic.
“A lot of people gave me praise,” he said. “The writing is on the wall. Know how to be successful in boxing just like the writing was on the wall that Mike Tyson-Roy Jones would be a draw. So you put the money on board and you are a genius .”
In other words, if you can promote with resources, the possibilities for a fighter are there. Thomas Lamanna and this title could set an example for other fighters or follow his path. He is open to those that need opportunity and could be looking for fighters to be a part of more cards in Mexico.
“You have to put the work in and know how to do it,” he said. “Grateful to position myself. I’m in a better position coming off that loss (Mendoza) then I was going into that fight. I’m in a way better position. Funny how boxing works the politics, timing is everything.”
And timing was everything.
“At the end of the day, no matter what just like Frank Sinatra said, there is no better feeling through ups and downs and everything. I can always say I did this in my life. People that say they have all the time to become champion but they are stuck in a place where they can’t get out and it hurts them.”
And it certainly did not hurt Thomas Lamanna. He took the chance and the opportunity. He plans to promote a series of shows in Mexico and has a better appreciation for the sport. A world champion, no matter what the title, does makes a difference.
“There’s an old saying don’t ever chase boxing let boxing chase you,” Lamanna said. “Don’t short yourself for nothing. My advice is jump to the next level, win lose or draw and I’ve experienced the high level now, but I bet you it made me a million times better fighter.”
“I can be an example,” Lammana said. “Boxing is my life inside and outside the ring. This is all I have with my fiance, my daughter, my beautiful life and I got boxing. In the future when I’m done with everything, if that is my path and I take it, it will be up to them to go back and look at what I’ve have done to make it where I made it to.”
But this journey for Thomas Lamanna is far from over. He says it is not done. Boxing is his career.
And one thing is certain, boxing and advancing can be done a different way. Thomas Lamanna learned and did it his way as Frank Sinatra said.
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