Lamonakis wins world title
By JASON BUTYNSKI
Monday, December 8, 2014
Referee Steve Smoger raises the hand of Sonya Lamonakis into the air following her split-decision win over Carlette Ewell as Lamonakis won the International Boxing Organization (IBO) world female heavyweight title Saturday at the L.B. Scott Auditorium in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. To the right of Lamonakis is her corner man for the fight, Don Saxby.
All of the hard work finally paid off for Sonya Lamonakis over the weekend as she fullfilled a life-long dream.
The Turners Falls native and professional women’s boxer finally became a world champion when she won a split decision over Carlette Ewell to win the International Boxing Organization (IBO) world female heavyweight title during the “War in Paradise” at the L.B. Scott Auditorium in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.
Lamonakis, a seventh and eighth grade U.S. history teacher at Middle School 126 in Brooklyn, N.Y., went the full 10 rounds with Ewell and the judges scored it 98-95, 96-94, 96-97 in her favor to win her first ever world championship.
“It was amazing,” Lamonakis said on Monday from Gleason’s Gym in New York, two days after winning the title. “It’s like a dream come true to me. A world title is what I’ve dreamed of since I started. I’m still crying today. When I talk about it I get upset. It was a big deal for me.”
The fight was part of a co-headliner on Saturday night and it lived up to the billing, as the two combatants spent much of the night in the middle of the ring trading punches. This marked the first time Lamonakis, nicknamed “The Scholar,” fought a 10-round bout, while Ewell, nicknamed “The Truth,” had multiple 10-rounders under her belt and is a four-time world champion. While the first six rounds were very close, Lamonakis said she felt that after the sixth round she managed to establish herself and it was in the final four rounds she thought she made the difference in the fight.
“It was a close fight, I’m not going to lie,” she said. “But in the later rounds, in the second half of the fight, I really started to punch stronger. I staggered her four or five times. I was busier.
“And I beat a four-time world champ to become a champ,” she continued. “This was a hard fight against a good fighter.”
After the final bell rung, the judges took some time before the decision was finally read, and Lamonakis said that the wait felt like an eternity.
“I was getting stressed out,” she said. “I knew I did enough to win, I was just scared they were going to give me a draw.”
When the result was announced referee Steve Smoger lifted Lamonakis’ hand in the air and she was given the belt. Lamonakis was still sporting a “shiner” under her right eye on Monday, the result of a punch from Ewell, but the blemish did not matter.
“She got me,” Lamonakis said. “It’s gonna happen, but it’s no problem. It was a great fight.
“I have a great sense of accomplishment,” she continued. “I accomplished a dream and a goal that I set out to do. It’s been a long time coming.”
Lamonakis spent eight years as an amateur and won numerous Golden Gloves titles. She turned pro in 2010 and went unbeaten in her first nine bouts. She suffered her first and only loss of her career to Martha Salazaar in 2013, but has rebounded to win her last three fights and has a 10-1-2 record with one knockout. Lamonakis fought mostly six-round bouts but in her last outing, went the distance in an eight-round bout to win a unanimous decision over Tiffany Woodard. She said she has worked hard with trainer Dillon Carew, a former Olympic fighter, and sparring partner Wayne Braithwaite (a professional fighter himself) in order to get in shape for 10 rounds of boxing. The fact that she pulled away in the final few rounds stands to reason that the hard work paid off.
“I knew I had gotten myself in shape,” she said. “It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth, but after the sixth round I was really able to step up.”
Lamonakis became the first full-time school teacher ever to win a world title, and while her reign as champion will end some day, she gets to keep the belt for the rest of her life to serve as a momento. Belts act as trophies to professional fighters, so they get to keep them forever.
As for the future, Lamonakis is unsure who she will take on next, but for now the 40-year-old is not worried about it.
“I’m going to enjoy the title and enjoy the holiday with my family,” she said. “Carlette wants a rematch. She’s not going to get it right away. I’m going to enjoy the title, and then maybe I’ll give her a rematch.”
She said she has her eye on a couple of other fighters as well, and that she may go after another title. The sky’s the limit, but for now she is going to enjoy the win and her re-emergence as the No. 1 women’s heavyweight boxer in the world according to Boxrec.com.
Note: Lamonakis has a lot of pride in the fact that she is a school teacher and she experienced quite the coincidence while in Sint Maarten, which assured her that her class was with her in spirit even if they could not be there in person. Lamonakis teaches at Middle School 126 in Brooklyn and when she checked in to her hotel before the fight she was handed the key, which was for room 126.