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25 SEPTEMBER 2017

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Full Report: Cornflake Calls It Quits


J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Vinnie LaManna’s Rising Star Prom’ns ran a card at the active Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City on Saturday. The ridiculously long card had an excess of bouts that ran into the next day. Fortunately, the main event was a good fight, but much of the undercard were mere record-builders. As usual, the circa-600 Celebrity Theatre was packed.

 

Popular Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, 147, Millville, 24-2 (9), headlined in a swan-song 10 versus tough George Sosa, 148, Passaic but fighting out of Reading, 15-10 (15). The combatants talked, touched gloves, hugged, apologized and carried on a running love fest throughout. Yet in stark contrast, the fight was a brutal war! The dangerous underdog came out aggressive and took the opening round. But by the second, with the place already going crazy, the tall, rangy favorite had drawn a bead and was accurately pin-pointing Sosa while circling George’s spirited attack. Sosa scored one big volley late, but Cornflake paid him back with a jolting right. Sosa’s left eye started to puff. Cornflake had it under control by the third as he began driving George back with the jab. In the fourth, a right uppercut drove George back when he tried to move in, and in the fifth, his nose began to pour blood, a right hurt him, and Sosa was beginning to be routed. The sixth looked like the end of the fight, as LaManna dug a left hook under the ribs that doubled Sosa up on the canvas, then shortly after, dropped him again with a right to the body. There was still plenty of time and Sosa was all but gone in a furious death struggle. But in a small miracle, George grimly hung in and battled his way out of a brutal beating.

 

LaManna tried to finish it in the seventh, corralling Sosa in a neutral corner. But George made a desperation move and slipped out of it, with Thomas missing a big right and falling face-first against the ropes. Sosa then took a reflexive cheap shot, square in the back of Thomas’ head. Referee Benjy Esteves stopped the action to bawl George out, while Sosa apologized profusely and Cornflake stoked up the booing fans with a dramatic performance. But the nature of the contest had subtly changed. LaManna had lost the moment, and while he still clearly controlled it, the game Sosa continued to hang in and battle back, looking for a last chance until the final bell. The bout was well scored; Pierre Benoist 99-88, Joe Pasquale and Ron McNair 98-90.

 

The contest was for some crap belt (aren’t they all?) which still meant a lot to Cornflake and fans (don’t they always?). But the belt had somehow gotten stuck in Customs, missing the grand photo opp. Being interviewed from center ring by publicist Marc Abrams and announcer Mark Fratto, Cornflake proclaimed his retirement, stating simply, “It’s over,” before breaking down in tears as he tried to thank all who had supported him in his immensely popular local career.

 

The main event was a good fight. The semi-final…forget it! Comebacking Imamu Mayfield, 200, Freehold, 26-10-3 (19), faced difficult spoiler Lamont Capers, 196, Hawley, PA, 7-10-3, in a dreary eight. The underdog took the early lead by throwing not punches but his entire body, forcing the clutching favorite back onto the ropes. They managed to keep their feet under them a bit more in the second, and Imamu tried to get some windmill punches going in the third. For the next couple dreadful rounds, the purportedly 45-year-old veteran seemed to have gained control by using what was left of his repertoire from long range. Capers tried laying on the ropes and suckering him to come in. Imamu threw some jabs and Lamont got a cut left eye in the fifth. But the pesky underdog was still there and in a weird way hanging in, although it wasn’t easy to spot punches amid the mauling, wrestling, and misses. Mayfield suffered a cut left eye in the sixth. With the fight on the line, there were at last a few clean blows in the last two. Mayfield took the seventh but couldn’t nail down a win in a scrambling, sloppy eighth. Jimmy Kinney scored it for Capers, 77-75. Lawrence Layton had the same score for Mayfield, and Eugene Grant tied it at 76-76, making it a split draw. Not a bad ending for a terrible contest in which no one looked like a winner.

 

With the night getting late, local fans still kept some interest up, seeing Anthony Young, 144 ½, Pleasantville, 18-2 (6), in a scrambling six against Carlos Winston Velasquez, 145 ½, Managua, 25-30-2 (14). Every round was virtually the same; fast-paced, with the speedier and slicker local favorite in control but the underdog willing and unfazed. The decidedly shorter Young made the best of that, keeping the action at mid-range and relentlessly scoring to the body with shorter punches. The visitor threw punches while looking constantly pained, as his shots tended to be wide and he’d lurch into a body blow. Carlos was still there pitching in the final round and not doing too badly, but Anthony made it a unanimous shutout by hurting him with a three-punch combination.

 

Touted Yurik Mamedov, 145 ½, Brooklyn, 7-0 (3), won handily in a punishing but monotonous six over hapless Ariel Vasquez, 145 ¼, Managua, 12-19-2 (9). The underdog folded to the canvas in round one from a painful clash of noggins, a foreboding sign of what he was in for. The rugged Russian just trudged in and pounded away all night in a workmanlike, unspectacular fashion. The Nicaraguan southpaw had nothing but grit, as he took his licking stoically and hung in. All scores (Kinney, Layton, Grant) 60-54, generous to Vasquez, as he took a notable beating especially in the fourth and fifth. Eric Dali refereed.

 

Alvin Varmall, 192, NOLA via Catskill, NY, 13-0 (12), manhandled Lemarcus Tucker, 199 ¼, Forrest City, AR, 4-3-1 (2), to a TKO at 2:18 of the second of six. There’s no subtlety or tactic from Varmall, just a straight-ahead physical battering. After being mercilessly clobbered by the muscular favorite throughout the opening round, the underdog seemed to be getting a breather and making a minor comeback as Alvin appeared to have slightly punched out. But Varmall got his wind back and launched a looping overhand right haymaker to the back of Tucker’s head, sending water flying and Lemarcus dancing. Two more booming clobber rights landed with thuds, having Tucker reeling in several directions at once, as referee Allen Huggins stopped it.

 

Frederick Julian, 173, Paris via Brooklyn, 6-0 (3), won a hard-fought TKO of Tahlik Taylor, 177, Freeport, LI, 2-8 (1), in a scheduled six. Julian fought a carefully contained fight that gradually escalated as his game opponent slowly unraveled. The lanky and loose-limbed Taylor is not easy to fight, but Julian walked him down and began to cut off his movement with a body attack in the third. By the fourth, Tahlik was being hurt, but hung tough into the final round although not a threat to win. When Taylor bounced off the ropes wide open, an opportune right hook from the southpaw favorite buckled his knees and referee Ronald Bashir acted quickly, stepping in front of the stunned underdog to stop it, at 1:15.

 

Promising but lightly-active Vidal Rivera, 128 ½, Camden, 7-0 (4), won a unanimous shutout over no slouch in Weusi Johnson, 130 ¼, Wilmington, 2-5, four. With both boxers tall and standup, it was a free-swinging contest. Rivera had the better focus, stalking and bearing down while Weusi circled and looked for openings. Yet it was by no means a blowout, with the favorite suffering a cut left eye just before the end of the third. To be safe, Rivera needed to put together a good final round, and he did, working the body in lively action and finishing strong.

 

Emmanuel Rodriguez, 119, Newark, 2-0, made judicious use of body shots and low blows to win a wild and woolly four from debuting Willie Anderson, 122 ½, Paulsboro. The spindly Anderson wasn’t a bum, but tried to shut down the overly aggressive favorite by leaning on and grabbing. Rodriguez responded by digging vicious lefts underneath, both above and below the belt. A flagrant shot to the culioni gained Willie an extended rest in the second, but ref Huggins took no points. It wouldn’t have mattered. By the next round, Willie was doing more holding than fighting and Rodriguez romped, although action remained spirited throughout. All scores 40-36.

 

One crackling exchange was all it took for Nahir Albright, 139 ¼, Sicklerville, 2-1 (1), to polish off Ronald Logan, 140, Harlem, 0-2, with a right to the body and left hook to head, in 1:17 of a scheduled four.

 

In a rarity by today’s standards, an old-fashioned solidly matched and competitive four rounder, debuting Marcos Lugo, 131 ½, Vineland, met Tomas Romain, 131 ¾, Brooklyn, 4-1. In some ways, this was the best fight on the card. And the judges didn’t even blow the decision! The southpaw Lugo came out shifty and aggressive, taking the first over the slightly confused Romain. Tomas began to figure his opponent out and take charge in a close second. The contest remained well-paced and well-conducted throughout, but Romain settled down and progressively took over against the countering Marcos. Romain finished with a strong final round, a focused attack that effectively tracked down the moving target with clean blows. Kinney scored 38-38, Layton had the best score at 39-37, and Grant scored 40-36, giving Romain the deserved majority decision. And what was Lugo’s management thinking to take a bout like this?

 

And finally, going on 1 AM, Joshafat Ortiz, 129, Ponce, PR, via Reading, 2-0 (1), (they couldn’t spell “Jehoshaphat”?) took the ring against Sidell Blocker, 128, Pleasantville, 1-9-1, in the final four. This was a surprisingly lively contest considering that they’d had to wait until this horrific hour. And their fans were still noisy, too. Joshafat was the more focused, relentlessly tracking the shifty Sidell down with short blows, as Blocker circled and sent his punches in looping arcs. Grant scored 39-37, the others 40-36, unanimous for Ortiz.




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