CHERRY HILL — Millville welterweight Thomas LaManna’s retirement didn’t last very long.
Three months after bading a tearful goodbye to boxing after a fight at The Claridge — A Radisson Hotel, the 26-year-old will return to that very same ring Saturday.
LaManna (27-2, 9 KOs) will take on Ghana native Samuel Amoako (23-16, 17 KOs) in an eight-round bout at the Claridge’s Celebrity Theatre.
“It turns out I may have jumped the gun a little bit,” LaManna said with a smile. “I learned that it’s very hard to keep a fighter out of the ring.”
After earning a decision over George Sosa last Aug. 19, LaManna broke down in the ring while announcing his retirement to his loyal fan base.
It took a trip to Las Vegas and some heart-to-heart talks with mother, Rising Promotions president Debbie LaManna, and New Jersey Athletic Control Board commissioner Larry Hazzard, to change his mind.
“When the bell rang after my last fight, I was done,” LaManna said. “On my mother’s life, I was through with boxing. I was so fed up with it, and I had been through so much, that I was ready to do something else.”
Mother and son headed to Vegas to watch the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor event on Aug. 26. LaManna visited various gyms and got caught up in the electric atmosphere leading up to Mayweather’s 10th-round TKO at T-Mobile Arena.
And he had a chat with his mom, who told him that if he was going to box again, he needed to focus more on fighting and less on promoting.
After he got from Vegas, he visited Hazzard in his office in Trenton.
“I told him that I thought his decision was a little premature,” Hazzard said Wednesday. “I think he has a lot of potential that hasn’t been tapped into, yet. I also told him that he wasn’t being fair to his fans. He has a pretty big following, and I didn’t want them to start calling him ‘Cornfake’ instead of ‘Cornflake’ (LaManna’s boxing nickname).
“If a fighter wants to call it a career, he should do it for all the right reasons. You don’t want to leave the sport with any regrets. When you reach the point where you feel like you’ve given it your all, then retire. And I think Thomas still has a lot left.”
Although he just turned 26, LaManna has been a professional fighter for seven years. He made his pro debut during his senior year at Millville High School, when he scored a first-round TKO against Anthony Williams on Feb. 2, 2011.
His record and his popularity earned him a fight against Antoine Douglas two years ago, which he lost by TKO. But he’s 8-1 in his last nine fights, with his only loss coming via unanimous decision against Dusty Hernandez Harrison last year.
Yet, he has very little to show for his efforts.
“I got paid $30,000 for the Douglas fight and $15,000 for Harrison,” he said. “But other than that, I haven’t gotten paid for a fight in I don’t know how long because I put everything back into the promotion.
“Boxing is definitely a poor man’s sport. There have been times when I’ve had my electricity turned off. But it’s all a means to an end.”
LaManna is hoping to parlay a win over Amaoako into a top-20 ranking in the World Boxing Association. His plan is to crack the top-15 and hopefully get a title shot and the lucrative payday that comes with it.
Then he would walk away for good.
“When I was a kid, I always told myself that I would stop boxing when I turned 27,” he said. “I just turned 26, so I have a year to go and do what I set out to do.”
Notes: Eight other bouts are scheduled for Saturday’s card, which is being co-promoted by Debbie LaManna, Greg Cohen (Greg Cohen Promotions), David Schuster (Winner Take All Promotions) and Devin Haney (Devin Haney Promotions).
Mays Landing welterweight Jeff Lentz (5-1, 1 KO), who is also a mixed martial arts fighter, was supposed to be on the card, but withdrew earlier in the week to fight for the Ring of Combat welterweight title on Friday at Tropicana Casino Resort.