By J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: After a tearful “retirement” in this same ring all of three months ago, “Cornflake” LaManna was back at Atlantic City’s Claridge Hotel on Saturday. The excuse put forward by publicist Marc Abrams was the successful ironing out of the complex promotional relationship, where Cornflake was promoting, matchmaking, and fighting all at the same time. After all, this card had three promoters: Thomas LaManna (Rising Star Prom’ns), Greg Cohen (GCP Prom’ns), and Dave Schuster’s Winner Take All Prod’ns. Ceremonial final ten counts were given by timekeeper Ray Ryan for Ferdie Pacheco, trainer Rafael Garcia, and Marshall Kauffman’s business manager, Desmond Hammond.
The heroes generally prevailed, but not without some surprises. Although it wasn’t technically the main event, the top bout was the closer, a sensational pitched battle between Raymond Serrano, 146 ¾, Phila., 24-4 (10), and well-connected Enver Halili, 146 ½, a Kosovan fighting out of The Bronx, 10-1 (3). The two traded briskly from the start, with the bigger Serrano getting the jump by keeping his distance and landing some jolting lefts. But in round two, the persistent Kosovan managed to shorten the distance by a step and began breaking down the once gilded prospect who has never quite reached expectations. By the third, intense trading seemed to be paying off for Halili. But in the fourth, Serrano went into the trenches in heavy mixing and seemed to pull out a torrid round. He forged a lead in the fifth with more solid trading at close range, but Enver was not to be outdone. Halili rebounded in the sixth by boring even closer inside and letting his hands go instead of tying up, forcing Raymond to give ground. But Halili blew the round by losing his mouthpiece, which had occurred several times prior, forcing referee Eric Dali to penalize him.
With the eight-round contest going to the final two rounds and the usual full-house crowd going crazy, both fighters went all out. But Serrano assumed command, stepping half to the side and letting fly with sweeping rights that several times nearly spun the hard-charging Kosovan around. In the eighth, a booming right rocketed the mouthpiece into the audience and Dali took another point. Action resumed at full tilt and it was only seconds before another sidearm right launched the projectile for a final time, with Dali by commission rule disqualifying Halili at 1:34. The shock ending sullied Raymond’s win in a sense, as even without the point deductions, he would still have won. Serrano led on all cards (Steve Weisfeld, Ron McNair, Mark Costantino) 67-66.
The main event was a ten between Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, 147, Millville, 25-2 (9), and Samuel Amoako, 147, Accra, Ghana, 23-17 (17). Although there was steady action, the contest was completely one-sided and provided few moments of excitement. The tall and rangy favorite kept the much smaller opponent at long range on the end of the jab, herded him onto the ropes and let go with both hands in recurrent volleys. The mobile Amoako tried an in-&-out style, getting off combos and getting away, but was never equal to LaManna’s output and always playing catchup. He never did. And by the late rounds, Cornflake was trying hard to please his fans while Amoako, while not actually hurt, was in full flight. All scores (Lindsey Page, McNair, Constantino) 100-90.
Cornflake took advantage of the post-fight interview to optimistically hype his new promotional arrangement, claiming he would bring Atlantic City back to the Glory Days. Lotsa luck! LaManna tried to enlist Commissioner Larry Hazzard, but the Commissioner, a government official, wisely demurred.
An eight between Adam Lopez, 121 ½, San Antonio, 16-2-2 (8), and Jorge Diaz, 121 ½, New Brunswick, NJ, 19-5-1 (10), provided lots of drama and movement, but was a poor contest in execution. After a feelout first, Lopez came out aggressive for the second and immediately surprised Diaz with a left hook that had him jiggling, followed by a right high on the forehead to push him over for a knockdown. But action fizzled and the moment was lost. For the rest of the contest, both moved all around the ring in frenetic activity, but were unable to execute effectively. They telegraphed punches, missed and fell into clinches, landed only glancing blows, and put nothing together. Nonetheless it was spirited in terms of intent, and held the fans. Diaz clearly came on late and won the final two rounds. But when the score was announced as a unanimous 76-75 (Weisfeld, McNair, Constantino), many thought it would go to Lopez on the knockdown. Not so. Diaz got the win, not a bad call considering that half the rounds were more smoke than fire and the winner did finish strong.
It was certainly a rugged, determined contest, but hardly stylish boxing between Yurik Mamedov, 146 ¾, Bklyn, 8-0 (3), and Vincent Floyd, 147 ¼, Phila., 3-4-1 (2), six. The compact, muscular Mamedov had one move only, to use his physical strength to bore inside and clobber away at the body and sometimes up to the head. The spindly southpaw Floyd tried to nail him with lefts, but forced back into a straight-up stance, couldn’t generate enough power to stop Yurik in his tracks and gain any punching room. And so Vincent was relentlessly bulldozed against the ropes and worked over. Weisfeld had a shutout while the other two generously gave Vincent a round.
Alvin Varmall, Jr, a paid-for fighter who appears on nearly every show, 183, LaPlace, LA, 14-0-1 (12), clobbered out Nicholas Lavin, 192, Derby, CT, 5-7 (4), in 1:37 of the first, scheduled six. The solidly-built favorite did what he always does, came in like a runaway truck and drove Lavin to the ropes, both hands hammering away at close range. The underdog flurried back a couple times and tried to get off the ropes, but was overwhelmed and brutally battered. Finally, a vicious left uppercut crumbled Lavin to all fours for the count of referee David Franciosi.
Frederic Julan, 181 ½, Bklyn, 7-0 (5), stopped rugged trialhorse Willis Lockett, 182, Takoma Park, MD, 15-22-6 (5), in a fairly tame scheduled six. The southpaw favorite boxed well within himself, lefty one-twos and straight left leads, while the underdog plodded forward without punching. Finally in the third, Lockett landed a long right sucker punch that set Julan back a bit. But by the fifth, Fred was punching smartly and consistently, with Lockett not coming out for the final round. Ronald Bashir refereed.
Tomas Romain, 130 ½, Bklyn, 5-1, won a slick six from Sidell Blocker, 131 ½, Pleasantville, 1-10-1. Despite a poor record, the tall, spindly and relentlessly mobile Blocker is not an easy win. But Romain stalked effectively, fought a controlled offense, stepping smartly within range and getting off short combos to dominate more and more as the contest wore on. The determined Blocker hung in to a bristly finish in a good, albeit lopsided, fight. McNair scored 59-55, the others 60-54, all for Romain.
Jonathan Arroyo, 145 ¾, NYC, debuted in a wild four with Steve Moore, 146 ½, Orange, 0-2. The tall southpaw rookie attacked with reckless abandon, and it nearly cost him. Looping wide but quick punches, Arroyo battered the smaller Moore nearly to a standstill by the third. But as Arroyo punched himself out a bit, the game underdog tried to rally in late third. Jonathan tried to make up for it by exploding out for the fourth and final and firing both hands full tilt. But with Moore nearly out of there, Steve lashed back wildly with a lucky punch, a left that made Arroyo’s knees collapse and he went to the canvas. Bashir gave a count. Moore took the fight to him for what was left of the round but didn’t have enough left to turn it around. Weisfeld had the best score at 39-36, the others 39-37, unanimous for Arroyo.