RENO, AUG. 19 -- There was blood everywhere. In rivulets on the champion's face and oceans on his once-white trunks; on the mat; on the shirt of referee Mills Lane and the challenger's trunks.

But mostly, there was blood in Maurice Blocker's eyes, enough to take Marlon Starling's world championship. Blocker, 27, of Germantown, Md., lifted the WBC welterweight crown from Starling with a majority decision at Bally's.

"It is a dream come true," said Blocker, a 2-to-1 underdog.

If it was a dream for Blocker, it was a nightmare for Starling, his title taken away.

"I thought I won it, close," he said.

It was so close one of the judges, Chuck Giampa, from Las Vegas, Nev., had it 114-114. The other judges, Lynn Carter, from New Jersey, and Miguel Donate, from Puerto Rico, scored it 115-113.

Starling was cut above his left eye in the seventh round.

"I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be," he said. "I was kind of tired. I don't think my gas tank was full. I think I was running on reserve from the fourth round on."

The turning point may have been the cut. Starling was ahead on the judges' cards until it became a factor. How it occurred wasn't clear. Blocker said he didn't know and Starling said it was a clash of heads, but Starling seemed to back off and Blocker seemed to come on when blood appeared on Starling's face.

Starling started bleeding near the end of the seventh round. After that round, Donate had Starling ahead by 68-65; Giampa and Carter had him leading, 67-66. Blocker won the last five rounds on one card and four of five on another.

It took cutman Eddie Aliano two rounds to control the blood. Starling had trouble seeing and lost initiative. Aliano said a blood vessel was cut and Blocker "kept picking at it."

Starling had been controlling the pace with counterpunches and had landed the best blows. But once Blocker saw blood, he smelled a world championship.

"Don't mistake me for being cruel, but I was glad to see blood," he said.

The ringside doctor examined the cut during and after the ninth round. Starling went out for the 10th apparently trying to end the bout before the doctor did it for him.

But Blocker forced the action in the 11th round, with Starling's face smeared with blood.

Starling could have pulled out the victory by taking the 12th round, but Blocker sensed something.

"I wasn't concentrating on how close the fight was," Blocker said. "I think when it got to the 12th I had to put out harder than I was."

He won the round. If Starling (45-7-1) was stunned by the scoring, he did not show it.

"Take nothing away from Maurice," he said. "He worked hard and won the title. If it was that close, he deserved it."

Starling, at a five-inch height disadvantage, got $200,000. Blocker, who got $79,000, has lost one of 32 bouts.

It was Blocker's second shot at a title. He lost to Lloyd Honeyghan April 18, 1987.