MILLVILLE - Millville junior-middleweight Thomas LaManna gave himself an early birthday present Saturday.
LaManna (10-0, 6 KOs), who turns 21 on Monday, posted a fourth-round TKO over Erick Hernandez Perez (2-3-1, 1 KO), of Batesville, Ark., at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Approximately 300 spectators showed up at NJMP's chilly Event Garages at the Thunderbolt track to watch the first local boxing card held outside of Atlantic City in more than two years. The last one took place at Merighi's Savoy Inn in Buena Vista Township in July 2010. It was the first pro boxing event held in Cumberland County in 15 years. Former heavyweight contender Vaughn Bean topped a card at Vineland High School in November 1997.
There is a chance that more boxing shows could be held at the racetrack.
"We're always interested in new ventures. We were excited about trying boxing," NJMP chief financial officer Mike Vinci said. "We're always looking for things that fit into our schedule."
Most of the fans were there to root for LaManna, a 2011 Millville High School graduate, who was fighting as a pro in his hometown for the first time.
LaManna entered the ring wearing an orange and blue Millville High School T-shirt and sported an orange "M" on his silver trunks.
"It felt great to fight here," LaManna said. "I hope we can do it again."
He generated more cheers during the fight.
LaManna began to take control in the second round with body shots and combinations, then began to punish Perez in the fourth round. A flurry of punches caused Perez to spit out his mouthpiece as blood began gushing out of his nose. LaManna pinned him against the ropes and unloaded a six-punch volley that prompted referee Lindsey Page to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 4 seconds of the round.
"I know I broke his nose because I felt it when I hit him," LaManna said. "But he still kept coming at me. Everybody looks at (won/loss) records of guys, but not me. I don't care if a guy is 0-9 or whatever. If he's in the ring, he can fight. I felt a little stiff at first because I haven't sparred in three weeks, but after the third round, I started to loosen up."
On the undercard, New York super-featherweight Josh Nieves (1-2, 1 KO) earned his first victory at the expense of Bridgeton native Moses Molina (1-2, 1 KO).
Molina, an 18-year-old senior at Bridgeton High School, claimed he got hit in the back of the head in the opening minute and never really recovered. Nieves, a native of Puerto Rico, unleashed a barrage of punches that prompted referee Alan Huggins to stop the scheduled four-round fight at 2:36 of the opening round.
In other bouts, Burke, Va., middleweight Antoine Douglas (2-0, 2 KOs) gained a fourth-round TKO over New York ring rookie Carlos Lopez (0-1) in an action-packed fight. Philadelphia light-heavyweight Amir Shabazz (2-0, 1 KO) earned a four-round, unanimous decision over Abdellah Smith (1-4, 1 KO), of New York. Camden junior-middleweight Gilbert Sanchez (2-1, 2 KOs) scored a second-round TKO over Nasser Abdel Malik (1-1, 1 KO), of Cary, N.C. New York heavyweight Jon Bolden (6-5, 5 KOs) took a six-round, unanimous decision over Dennis Benson (1-5, 1 KO), of Norfolk, Va.
Punchlines: Boxing returns to Atlantic City next Saturday when former WBO super-featherweight champion Adrian Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) moves up a weight class to challenge WBC lightweight champ Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall. Top U.S. heavyweight contenders Seth Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs) and Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) will meet on the HBO Championship card. Caesars Entertainment is hosting the fights.
Banks served as Wladimir Klitschko's trainer for Klitschko's win over Mariusz Wach on Saturday. He was originally one of Klitschko's sparring partners.
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