No limos. No roaming spotlights. Not even a marquee. Outside the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Rockville last night, it was just another steamy summer night in the suburbs.
But inside it was even steamier.
It was the monthly Monday night fights, featuring blood, sweat and "The Babe."
The first belonged to light heavyweight Jason Waller of Stafford, Va., up against Fabian Garcia of Rockville. "Will be a war," the promoters promised.
It was a short and messy one.
Moments after the start of the second round Waller went down. Hard. A steady stream of blood poured out onto the blue canvas. They called the fight.
The sweat wasn't just on the fighters. More than 600 men -- and about 10 women -- packed the hotel ballroom, shouting, cursing, cheering. It was stifling, but it was intimate.
"This place is so small, every seat in the place is great," said one spectator on entering the ballroom.
Ringside seats were $50, general admission $25.
Out in the lobby, munching on chili dogs and pizza and slurping cold beer, fans were trading old fight stories.
"... and BOOM!" said one, as he motioned with an uppercut, "there was this little trickle of blood coming out of his mouth."
"I used to box a little bit," said 16-year-old Danny Ben Debba of Hereford, Md., "and my father used to take me to fights. He said we saw Cassius Clay once, but I don't remember."
"There she is," shouted his friend Tim Daughton, 15. "The Playboy girl."
That would be the Babe.
"There have been Round Card Girls around as long as there's been boxing," she said. "If the fight's no good, there's always a knockout."
Her name is Leslie Glass and she's from southwest Baltimore. She's a full-time Round Card Girl. That's the person who gets up in the ring and prances from corner to corner holding a card with the number of the next round on it.
In 1988, Ring Magazine named her Round Card Girl of the year. And in 1988, she appeared in Playboy's "Women of Washington" issue.
You could say it was a stellar year for Miss Glass.
She's now under exclusive contract (as a Round Card Girl) for the Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. She was on loan last night.
"I do all the Mike Tyson fights," she said, "except the one he lost. It was an omen. Everyone says it was bad luck."
She was sitting ringside before the fights began, barely dressed in her first costume of the evening, a black, bra-top bodysuit, tails, fishnet stockings, four-inch stilettos and a gold Playboy bunny pendant. She was having a dickens of a time with her hair.
"It keeps getting caught in my lipstick," she sighed. "You know, you have to wear like 10 inches of makeup to do these things, so when you're in the center of the ring ..."
She was interrupted by a fan. Men were lining up, hoping to get an autograph on one of those 8-by-10 color glossies stacked up next to her. The ones of Glass in a shredded pink tank top and red boxing gloves.
"Five dollars," she said. "Apiece."
"Even for the press?" he protested.
"Well," as she picked up the big black marker, "Okay. But don't tell anyone. They'll all want them for free."
Glass just wrapped up filming "Rocky V" with Sylvester Stallone. She played the part of the Round Card Girl.
What was it like working with Stallone?
"Well, I went out with him," she offered, instantly. "For three months. Last winter. ... "When I went out with him the first time, you know, my girlfriend Geeeeeeena, well, she's in love with him, and I kept thinking to myself, 'If she knew where I was and what I was doing right now, she would DIE!"
There were a lot of hometown boys on last night's card. Junior welterweight Tony Pressley of Washington faced John "Boy Wonder" Bizzarro of Erie, Pa.
"His dad was a big fighter," said fight promoter Don Elbaum of Bizzarro. "His dad knocked down Roberto Duran once."
"Johnny, step in! Step in!" he yelled at Bizzarro in his Don Corleone voice. The young fighter looked away from his competitor to Elbaum, nodded. "Down here, Johnny," he shouted, pointing to his stomach, "Down here!"
"The neutral promoter," quipped one sportswriter. "He used to promote his dad."
"He knocked down Duran," said another.
"No he didn't," sneered the first. "It's a lie, I saw the fight. His dad was running away from Roberto Duran for 15 rounds."
In the heavyweight class was 206-pound Phil Gilberti of Rockville vs. Sam "The Grim Reaper" Atkins of Hagerstown at 236 1/2.
The Grim Reaper was a moose. Buzz cut, thick waist, rose tattoo on his left shoulder. When he landed a punch, it went THUMP! the whole place went THUMP!
The main event pitted cruiserweights Richard "Hardface" Mason of Cincinnati and Dean Moore of Forest City, N.C. It was expected to be an easy win for the Hardface.
When he walked into the ballroom, surrounded by his trainers, a woman screamed, "I love you, Hardface!"
A smile broke that hardface -- but only for a moment.