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Thomas LaManna stops Juan Carlos Abreu in round three, wins WBA gold middleweight belt

ATLANTIC CITY — After walking through the backstage curtain, Thomas LaManna let out a cathartic expletive and walked to an empty hallway at Bally’s Hotel and Casino to process the moment. Thirteen years prior, LaManna made his pro debut at the same building, and now he received his greatest validation as a professional.

The 32-year-old from Millville, N.J. defeated Juan Carlos Abreu by third round stoppage on Saturday, June 8, dropping the Dominican slugger three times to end the bout at the 2:15 mark and win the vacant WBA “gold” middleweight title, a second tier belt which LaManna believes makes him first in line to face the acknowledged champion. It was a milestone in the New Jersey fighter’s career, validating a career that has seen its share of ups and downs.

“It’s just a real feeling where I have a piece of hardware that does something in boxing. Now I go from the hunter to the hunted,” said LaManna (38-5-1, 17 knockouts).

LaManna was originally scheduled to face Johan Gonzalez before Gonzalez dropped out and Abreu (26-8-1, 24 KOs) became the opponent in mid-April. Only LaManna was eligible to win the belt however, after Abreu missed the weight, coming in officially at 162.5 pounds, though he had to cut a few pounds after weighing in unofficially at approximately 166 pounds.

LaManna weighed in at 159.5 pounds.

Abreu’s weight issues put a target on his midsection, which LaManna began to focus on after a feeling out first round. Abreu waded into range and was able to land a right hand here and there but it was the 6’1” LaManna’s jab that controlled the action for the most part. LaManna finally was able to make an impression on Abreu in the third, when a right uppercut scored the first knockdown.

“That was a chin shot, I know because hand ringed a little bit. The second and third were more so body because we were like rock ‘em sock ‘em robots for the last minute or whatever. Whoever lands first it was gonna be one of us. We caught him and got him the f—k out of there,” said LaManna.

The win was the culmination of a long road for LaManna which saw him win his first 16 bouts as a pro but struggle to achieve a signature win, suffering losses in step-up fights against the likes of Antoine Douglas, Jorge Cota and Brian Mendoza, and suffering a first round knockout loss in 2021 to Erislandy Lara for the WBA middleweight world title.

The win over Abreu, his eighth straight, is his best yet, as Abreu had shown his class in losing a close majority decision to Charles Conwell in 2022 and lasting six rounds in a game effort against Jaron Ennis in 2020.

LaManna’s long-time trainer Reggie Lloyd tells The Ring that Abreu’s high knockout percentage didn’t concern him much because Abreu doesn’t keep a high work rate and is only looking for power punches. He said the key was to keep his defense tight and stay busy.

“Just to touch the body, stay behind the jab, use his height. We know the guy likes to turn his back so I was telling him to use the jab and bring the right hand to the body and it broke him down,” said Lloyd.

LaManna says he plans to put in a petition with the WBA to get a second opportunity at Lara, but is open to other big fight opportunities at 160 pounds.

“Let’s try to consolidate, that’s a great story. But financially, [Lara] don’t really draw the most. Whatever big fights are at 160. I’ve been linked with Chris Eubank, we talked about Jarrett Hurd, me and Danny Garcia would be crazy here in Atlantic City. Now that I got that belt I think it will cement it a little bit where I can get a proper opportunity,” said LaManna.

Other results

Chiara Dituri (9-1, 3 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y. scored her second straight win following her first career defeat, winning a split decision over Perla Lomeli (5-2) of Mexicali, Mexico. Two judges scored the fight for Dituri by scores of 77-75 and 78-74, while the third had it 77-75 for Lomeli.

Gabriel Gerena (6-0, 5 KOs) scored his first win since graduating from Rutgers Business School with a degree in finance last month, pummeling Lyle McFarlane (2-6, 1 KO) to a stoppage after the fifth round of their six-round scheduled junior welterweight bout. Gerena, 22, hails from Piscataway, N.J.

Lightweight Justin Palmieri (2-0, 1 KO) of Maple Shade, N.J. scored his first career stoppage, dropping Andrew Toppin (0-2) once in the first round with a body shot before finishing him off with a right hand to the body followed by a left hook to the chin in the second round, leading the corner to throw in the towel at the 2:10 mark. Palmieri, 24, trains alongside LaManna with Reggie Lloyd.

Palmieri, who turned pro last November, had a brief amateur career of just eight bouts, though he hadn’t competed for over two years before his debut.

“I always had the style for the pros, I never had that super fast pace. I always wanted to pick my shots and really make them count. It was just a matter of time, I wasn’t gonna be no Olympian or anything like that so I just wanted to get in the pros as soon as possible,” said Palmieri of his decision to turn pro.

Damian Tinnerello (2-0, 2 KOs) of Berlin, N.J. scored his second straight win in three months, stopping Brooklyn’s Jordan Drayton (0-1) at 2:57 of the opening round of their four-round junior middleweight bout. The 21-year-old Tinnerello, who has been enlisted in the Air National Guard for a year, scored one knockdown with a right hand before a left hook to the body ended matters.

“I set him up all behind that jab. We executed our game plan, stayed calm, stayed patient. I saw an opportunity and I took it. He didn’t belong in there so I took him out,” said Tinnerello.

The show was promoted by Main Events.

The post Thomas LaManna stops Juan Carlos Abreu in round three, wins WBA gold middleweight belt appeared first on The Ring.

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