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Thomas LaManna blasts out overmatched Juan Manuel Witt, Prenga KOs Silgado in 1

LaManna stands over Witt after a knockdown. Photo by Carlo Estonactoc
Fighters Network

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna continued his build back towards a second title opportunity with a dominant third round stoppage of the overmatched Juan Manuel Witt on Saturday, July 22 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

LaManna (36-5-1, 15 knockouts) scored three knockdowns of Witt (33-2-2, 25 KOs), with the weapon of choice being the overhand right for each knockdown. The stoppage came at 2:47 of the third round, with referee Ricky Vera waiving off the ten-round middleweight bout without a count.

LaManna was in control from the opening bell as he imposed his size on Witt, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina who hadn’t won since 2017, when he weighed 16 pounds lighter at 142 pounds. Witt was coming off his first pro fight 13 months prior, when he was knocked out in six rounds by Brandon Berry in his U.S. debut.

“He was very durable and awkward. I expected him to come forward like a tough Argentinian but I think my size overpowered him and I took control from the gate,” said LaManna, who is now trained by Derek “Bozy” Ennis, who is also the father and trainer of top welterweight Jaron Ennis. LaManna spent several weeks in camp with unbeaten junior middleweight Jesus Ramos Jr. in Arizona to prepare for the fight.

LaManna, 31, is rated no. 4 by the WBA at 160 pounds. That belt is held by Erislandy Lara, who knocked LaManna out in one round in 2021. Since then, LaManna of Millville, N.J. has won six straight, and is eager to get a second crack at the Cuban boxer who is rated no. 5 by The Ring at 160 pounds.

“That’s what I want. I think it’s more like a personal thing. Economically it don’t make the best business sense because he doesn’t really draw but I don’t see anyone beating him so he’ll most likely still be the champion. I just want to be at the right place and the right time,” said LaManna, who also promoted Saturday’s six-bout card under his Rising Star Promotions banner.

While the LaManna-Witt fight was the card’s official main event, two other bouts featuring high-drawing prospects proceeded that bout.

In a six-round junior middleweight bout between local attractions, Atlantic City’s own Justin “Time” Figueroa (6-0, 5 knockouts) went the distance for the first time, defeating the competitive Jeff Lentz (5-2, 1 KO) of Lanoka Harbor, N.J. by unanimous decision.

Figueroa used his superior skills and power punching to earn a unanimous decision, winning by the scores of 59-55 on two cards and 58-56 on the third. The 24-year-old Figueroa, who is managed by Jolene Mizzone, came close to a knockout in the sixth round, but Lentz, who also fights in mixed martial arts, was able to make it to the final bell.

The fight was the first for Lentz since 2015, when he was stopped by former junior middleweight champ Jarrett Hurd in seven rounds.

In the final fight of the night, Albanian heavyweight Kristian Prenga (14-1, 14 KOs) continued his knockout streak, knocking out Santander Silgado (32-16, 26 KOs) of Colombia with an overhand right at the 1:22 mark.

“I wanted to do more, I wanted to put a better show for everybody. But sorry, I can’t control my right hand, it’s really strong,” said Prenga through an interpreter.

Prenga, who now makes his home in Edgewater, N.J., has now won nine straight since his lone defeat, a decision loss in 2017 in the Netherlands to a fighter he had previously knocked out. Prenga disputes that decision as a dubious, hometown verdict.

“I’m ready for anybody. I don’t think there’s anybody that is better than me. They might have more experience than I have but I’m feeling for anybody. There’s nothing that can stop me,” said Prenga.

Gonzalez puts Ruiz down for the count in round two. Photo by Carlo Estonactoc

Daniel Gonzalez, the debuting lightweight prospect from Iselin, N.J., had one of the largest cheering sections of the card. The 28-year-old thrilled the crowd with a second round knockout of Michael Ruiz. After a shaky opening round, Gonzalez settled down and reverted to the boxing skills which earned him a New Jersey Golden Gloves title earlier in the year. Gonzalez scored the first knockdown of the fight with a right hand before finishing Ruiz (0-2) with a leaping left hook at the 3:00 mark of the second.

“The first round I was trying a little too hard. I had great advice from my corner, they told me to settle down. Once that happened I landed great shots and I got him out of there,” said Gonzalez, who is managed and trained by Percy Gayanilo out of Park Elite Boxing Club in Roselle Park, N.J.

Gonzalez is expected to stay busy, with his next pro fight tentatively scheduled for Sept. 9 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Nadim Salloum (11-1, 4 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y. by way of Lebanon kicked his 2023 campaign off with a second round stoppage of Ismael Ocles (12-13-2, 3 KOs) of Ecuador. Salloum, 29, applied pressure against the ill-conditioned Ocles, forcing Ocles to remain on his stool after the second round in a six-round super middleweight bout.

The card kicked off with the professional debut of Sharahya Taina Moreu, a 24-year-old lightweight prospect from Albuquerque, N.M. Moreu, a nine-time national amateur champion and 2020 U.S. Olympic alternate, dropped Janaisa Indira Morandin Cardoso (0-2) in round three but went the four round distance, scoring a shutout win by scores of 40-35 across the board.