What is the expression, lucky at cards, unlucky at love?
Here, where the desert blooms and the war is on wealth instead of poverty, the wizards of odds are wondering what to make of Jimmy Young losing $9 to the one-armed bandits, $5 in quarters in one machine and four silver dollars in another.
Meanwhile, Jerry Quarry, who is flouting tradition by attempting a comeback Saturday night against Lorenzo Zanon of Italy, is the talk of the matrons who play the machines because he won slightly more than $5,000 with one pull of the handle on a quarter machine.
Young is a 9-to-5 underdog to Ken Norton in a 15-round bout designed to provide a challenger for the heavyweight held by Muhammad Ali.
Unlike the practitioners in other sports who revel in having the psychologically motivating advantages of being on the short end of the odds, Young is distressed by it as a sign of not being accepted.
"Nobody believes I can do anything yet," he said after opening the subject about the odds. - "That bothers me. I'm always the underdog. It was 15 to 1 against me when I got married," he said, having his little jest. "No, I mean when I fought Ali."
Young became the most beloved unexciting fighter in the land after the decision went against him in April, 1976, in the bout with Ali in Landover, Md.
He then redeemed his martyrdom as a victim of a bad verdict when he not only decisioned the bully George Foreman, but knocked him down in the process and chased him into retirement.
"I beat Foreman when nobody would mess with him," Young said, pleading his case for status. "How does Norton get to be ranked No. 2 contender and me behind him, when Foreman knocked him out? I'm reaching back to fight Norton.
"I expect Norton to fight a dumb fight. He'll be frustrated with the first five to six punches in his face; he will start losing blood. That I promise. Even if I win the fight, I want you to pick me up on that if I don't do it. In the first three rounds he will change up his style."
Young was disappointed by the passive skepticism of his interviewers and asked some who they thought would win.
It was reminiscent of an interview in a hospitality room in a Landover hotel before he fought Ali and was trying to educate his listeners as to how easy it would be for him to handle the champion.
In his impatience at their disbelief, he reached to the bar, grabbed a bottle, and pretended he would use it to knock some sense into the doubting Thomases.
"Can't you tell Norton's nervous" Young said, trying to reach his listeners the rudiments of diagnosing fear.
"He wants to know where I'm doing my roadwork; why I'm training at night; who I am sparring with I used to train at night as an amatuer because I worked in the daytime.
"He better keep doctors walking around with him to keep his head together. He's really shook up."
That reference was to Norton's previously using a hypnotist to boost his confidence.
Young did seem disturbed when he was told Norton called him a "bore."
"A bore. He didn't say that. What does he mean."
Informed that Norton was alluding to his being a "dull" boxer who "clings" to his opponents, Young said. "Tell the man I'm going to 'cling' him. He should have learned to cling and Foreman wouldn't have knocked him out.
"He thinks he's going to knock me out . . . no knockout, I'm sorry."
As to Norton's contention that he Norton, will have to "make the fight" because Young is a counter-puncher. Young said, "What does he think is going to happen when the bell rings, that I am going to stand out there and look at him.
"I was doing a job on him when I sparred with him in 1973.
"Ask Eddie Futch (manager of Norton at the time). I got films of his three fights with Ali. You see one, you've seen them all. I like to take on all the punchers; they don't think.
I'm going to be fighting like I'm mad, like I came home early from work and found something wrong, if you know what I mean."
Was Young, who fought both, surprised at how well Shavers did in losing to Ali?
"No," he said without being nasty. "Ali's through. He's got one foot in the graveyard, waiting for somebody to punch him in.
"He was good for the game, but he's doing some things now that are wrong. I would be a disgrace, fighting Leon Spinks for the title (as has been reported Ali may). He's (Spinks) had only six fights."