The way Maurice Blocker sees it, he's pretty lucky. After all, it's not often a boxer who wastes a title shot gets a second chance.

But D.C. native Blocker, who lost a World Boxing Council welterweight title fight to Lloyd Honeyghan in October 1987, will have his opportunity today, when he fights WBC champion Marlon Starling at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nev.

Blocker is not shy about giving credit for the resurgence of his career. "I have no idea where I would be if I didn't end up with Butch," said Blocker, 27.

Butch is manager Butch Lewis, the flamboyant and outspoken boxing personality. He bought Blocker's contract in 1988, and ever since, the lanky Blocker has been able to concentrate solely on boxing and not on the business decisions that go with it.

"He had to be the boxer, the manager and the promoter," Lewis said. "That should never have been on his mind."

"I was down and out when I met him," Blocker said. "I appreciated the fact he handled things and got to know me as an individual before we talked business."

Blocker's depression had been caused by managerial problems that preceded his loss to Honeyghan, a 12-round unanimous decision. In fact, it was the handling of the Honeyghan fight by Blocker's former management team -- led by Chuck Rosenbleet -- that piqued Lewis's interest.

"His benefit was not first and foremost to them," Lewis said. "They didn't care."

The problems began when Honeyghan's original opponent, Simon Brown, pulled out with an injury. With a little under two weeks before the fight, Blocker was thrown into the fray.

"I said, 'You don't take a kid that can win the title and throw him in on 10 days' notice,' " Lewis said. "Being as competitive as he was, he said he would try."

After that fight, Lewis contacted Blocker. Soon after, he became the fighter's manager.

After the Honeyghan fight, "I just wanted to deal with Maurice until I got myself in order again," Blocker said. "When I did, I ended up in Butch Lewis's office."

Since then he's won seven straight fights. And although the competition hasn't been top-notch, the wins haven't prevented Blocker from becoming the WBC's No. 1 challenger, which requires Starling to fight him.

Blocker brings a 30-1 record into the bout, while Starling is 45-6-1. Starling, 31, is the favorite, but Blocker has an ace in his corner in veteran trainer Eddie Futch, who trained Starling in his WBC title victory over Honeyghan in February 1989.

"The size of the advantage would be in the mind of Starling," Futch said. "It seems to me he's pretty uptight about this fight."

Futch said Starling's unorthodox style won't cause problems for Blocker.

"If he was a new fighter on the block, that would be a big problem," he said. "But he's been around a while. It's not new anymore and it's not new to Blocker."

Said Blocker: "It is {an advantage} psychologically, knowing someone who can point out his do's and dont's."

But Blocker, whom Futch describes as a boxer who can fight when necessary, said he isn't all that concerned with his opponent. "I'm concentrating more on Maurice," he said. "If I concentrate on Starling too much then I'm lacking confidence in myself."

According to Lewis, he of the not-so-modest ego, the fact that he manages Blocker is reason enough to take notice.

"Even the books say, 'If he's a Butch Lewis guy, he can fight,' " Lewis said.

Translating that confidence to Blocker was a key to Lewis's managerial strategy. Blocker said confidence was a problem in the early years of his career, even as he was winning his first 23 fights. Now, he derives confidence just from the identity of his manager.

"When you're a young fighter and you hear about big promoters, a fighter never believes he'll be able to sit in one of those promoters' offices," Blocker said. "I was blessed that I ended up in Butch's office."