Ron McGarvey of Adelphi, Md., 127 pounds wringing wet, lost by what could be called a fluke punch delivered by Alfredo Escalera's right fist in the March 17 junior lightweight title bout two weeks ago in Puerto Rico.
Actually, we was not lost by McGarvey despite his technical knockout in the sixth round. McGarvey, a 32-year-old, blue-eyed blonde who looks 14, was a willing last-minute substitute on the card in the nationally televised George Foreman-Jimmy Young match.
McGarvey is hoping that his television exposure, rare in his lightweight classification, will change his life in the first game.
Because so far all the sport has given him is a 32-2 record a record, a broken nose that makes him talk like he is in the early throes of a head cold, a fresh purple and yellow mouse under his right eye from his recent fight and meager earnings of $15,000 spread out, irregularly, over his past nine years of a pro career.
Yes, despite worldwide TV attention and an audience of 8,000 fans in San Juan's Robert Clemente Coliseum, who paid big money to see the $1 million decision between Foreman and Young, the McGarvey-Escalera purse was a mere $7,500. McGarvey figured on getting half,one of his biggest paychecks.
But after paying debts of $500 to promoter Don King for training expenses in San Juan and $550 to his manager, Frank Gelb, for staking him, and after the customary half-and-half split with manager Gelb, McGarvey banked less than $1,000.
So it's no wonder McGarvey needs his electrician's job to support himself, his wife and seven children.
There are six daughters and son ranging in age from 14 to three months. He sticks with boxing because of a very personal reward, the kind of prove-it-to-yourself dominance depicted in the popular movie, "Rocky."
His wife Margaret, whom he married when he was 17 and she is 16, constantly begs him to quit. He took her to dinner and to see "Rocky" after he got back from Puerto Rico. He said he identified with the way of life shown in the movie, but not the hero.
Yes, McGarvey has been the "Rocky" route, except for quitting in the end. He has gotten up at 4 a.m. to face a windy winter run. He has slapped six raw eggs in a glass and downed the gooey high-protein mess. "You just blab them in there because you're in a hurry," he explains. "And why cook them?"
McGarvey is hanging onto boxing. It is a sport he clearly loves and there is enough Irish optimism in him to keep looking for some miracle payoff.
Boxing," McGarvey insists with a "twisted grin, "is one of the toughest sports going. Once you get in the ring, there is always this guy thumping on you."
But the thumping in the ring is nothing compared tot the thumping on the outside. McGarvey admits he is thinking more and more about quitting. He compalins that his personal satisfaction is eroding.
"I'm just so stick of so much conniving and the boxes getting no money. I mean, if the promoters gets a good gate it wouldn't hurt them to give a few extra bucks to the fighters - make start filling upt he gyms. I just don't know if I'm going to fight much longer for $500. That's what I got on the same card when Sugar Ray Leonard made his job debut and he got $43,000.
"I'm not saying he didn't deserve every penny," he continued. "But I got $500 and people said that I had best fight on the card. I didn't know ahead of time what I was getting and I almost quit then.
"The managers cut each others' throats and if you're not partof some special clique you don't get managers," McGarvey said. "You have to be tied up with some promoter. There just too much backstabbing for me. I didn't notice it when I started out," he said, speaking from a platform of experience that saw him enter Golden Gloves competition in Washington at 16 and turn pro in his early 20s.
He says he owes a lot to boxing. It got him off the streets when he quit school in the eighth grade.
"But just take the U.S. boxing tournament that is being televised on was not invited and some of the best ABC. Politics are involved in that. I in the country were not invited to appear in it. I should have been in it, but I guess I didn't belong to the right clique."
About the only time McGarvey couldn't keep his eyes open recently was in the fifth and sixth rounds of his title bout. Escarlear had opened a small cut on McGarvey's eyelid in the fourth round.
McGarvey says he wasn't hurt by Escalera. It was just that the blood blinded him, making him think his eye was puffed up when it wasn't. He couldn't wipe the blood away; the boxing gloves were too clumsy. And so McGarvey didn't see Escalera's right fist.
"Wham, here comes his right hand and I'm rubbing my eye and I can't see it, when it's coming," McGarvey recalled.
McGarvey is proud of himself, despite his loss to Escalera. Despite blowing his big chance at the junior lightweight title. Despite the bruise that still rests underneath one round blue eye. Despite the messed-up nose that one doctor told him would cost $2,000 to fix. "I was lucky to get on national TV," he said.
When McGarvey blinded by the blood streaming down his face, was knocked down in the sixth round, his young son who was watching at home on television, suddenly began to cry. He cried and cried and cried. For almost three hours, his mother reported later, the child was inconsolable.
"I was lucky to get on national TV," McGarvey keeps insisting. He is lounging in a chair at the Bingo Parlor in Laurel, where he works between fights. "Maybe it will help me get a shot at Danny Lopez - not for the featherweight title, but just a match with him I'd really like to have a shot at Lopez. I have someone working on that and I hope it worksout."