Ron McGarvey of Adelphi Md., will challenge Alfredo Escalera of Puerto Rico for the World Boxing Council's junior lightweight championship in a 15-round bout Thursday night.

The fight will be shown on television (WMAL-TV-7, 8:30 p.m.) prior to the George Foreman-Jimmy Young 12-round heavyweight bout.

It will be Escalera's eighth defense of his title. He has accounted for 23 of 36 victories by knockouts. He has lost seven bouts and drawn twice.

McGarvey, a southpaw, won 30 straight bouts before losing a decision (his only defeat) to William Berry of Philadephia Nov. 30. Twenty of McGarvey's victories have been by knockouts.

He is a member of a building maintenance crew in Laurel, Md., and is the father of seven children. Now 32 years old, he married when he was 17.

McGarvey will receive by far his largest purse, $7,500. He was paid $500 for his last bout. Escalera will receive $70,000.

McGarvey suspected when he was offered the bout against the Puerto Rican that it was because Escalera saw McGarvey lose while Escalera was beating Tyrone Everett in Philadelphia.

McGarvey was weak from an illness and weighed only 123, seven pounds under the junior lightweight limit, and ran out of energy about the sixth round.

The popular Adelphi fighter took the about against Escalera believing that he punches harder than the Puerto Rican.

Besides witnessing Escalera's victory in Philadelphia, McGarvey has seen him fight a couple of times on television.

Before leaving for Puerto Rico, McGarvey said that he would probably have to knock out Escalera to be certain of victory, figuring that it will be difficult to take away a champion's title by decision, particularly in his home town.