The decision already had been announced and the fighters had retreated to their dressing room when Annapolis welterweight George Pindell let his opponent in on a little secret.
His reluctance to come forward during Thursday night's fight at La Fontaine Bleu had nothing todo with a fear of being hit.
"I twisted my left leg a couple weeks ago and didn't want to put too much pressure on it," he said, streams of sweat rolling down hisface.
"I feel good that it's over with. I was a little nervous because of my leg. I thought he might notice it."
No, George Taylor was too busy walking into a bevy of stiff right jabs. The secret, at least until Pindell's admission, would be safe for one night.
The speedy southpaw made a successful return to boxing after a nearly three-year layoff, dominating Taylor from the onset of the six-round bout in winning a unanimous decision.
The fight was one of five that took place before an enthusiastic crowd that matchmaker Josh Hall said numbered between 680 and 700. His two previous cards in the Glen Burnie complex drew around 500.
Pindell, 25, wasn't the only fighterwith county ties to step through the ropes Thursday night. But he easily was the most intriguing.
Those closest to Pindell -- including manager-trainer Charlie Hollaway -- often questioned his dedicationto the sport, and the early retirement in 1988 did nothing to quiet the accusations.
His latest performance just might.
"He's more mature now. He takes his time and watches. He doesn't rush in as much," Hollaway said.
It could take a while for Pindell to become thatmobile again -- at least until the leg heals sufficiently.
"He'llbe back when he feels up to it," Hollaway said, adding he would likePindell to fight at least once a month.
"If his leg's hurting himthat much, you can't put him in there. You would only ruin a fighter."
Pindell immediately took charge of Thursday's fight in raising his record to 8-2. He stood up Taylor (4-9) with a crisp jab in the first round, and a left-right combination sent the Ohio native to the ropes.
A small cut opened along the side of Pindell's left eye in the fifth round, but he still remained the more active puncher. By the sixth round, both of Taylor's eyes were swollen and blood trickled from his nose.
Pindell said, "I think my counter-punching was pretty sharp, but. .."
Hollaway intervened, saying, "He still needs work on it."
At least his fighter is back in the ring, again displaying the promise that made him a favorite among local boxing enthusiasts.
The night's opening bout, a four-rounder, featured welterweight Mark Padeletti (1-1) of Baltimore, who trains at the Harding-Lowry gymnasium in Pasadena. Padeletti's face was reddened inthe first round by southpaw Horace Waterson (1-1) of Rockville, who took a unanimous decision.
In a pair of six-rounders, welterweight Reginald Little of Hillcrest Heights (4-0-1) won by unanimous decision over BernardGrant (2-2) of Cleveland, and Meade graduate Jake "The Snake" Smith (5-2-1) took a controversial split decision over Cliff "The Hammer" McPherson (1-3) of Glen Burnie in a light heavyweight tiff.
McPherson, a nationally ranked kick boxer who entered the ring donning an Indian headdress, seized early control until Smith landed a vicious left hook to the head with 10 seconds remaining in the second round.
That was the punch Smith would rely on to win the bout.
"It's never worked before, but it worked this fight," he said. "My overhand right, a punch that always works, seemed like it didn't work for me at all. My cornermen kept telling me to throw it straight, throw it straight, but I just couldn't get it off."
McPherson's nose was bloodied in the third round, and a halo ofsweat rose above his head from a left-right combination in the fourth.
The fight still appeared evengoing into the final round, which Smith closed with a nice three-punch combination.
"I knew I had to win that last round. I had to come out and look good or I would have lost the fight," Smith said.
"I didn't think he was going to be as tough as he was. I thought I was just going to be able to go in there and do what I wanted; toy withhim. It should have been a lot easier."
McPherson thought it should have been his victory.
"That's all right. I'll get a rematch later," he said. "He's a good fighter, but I know I can beat him."
The main event provided the lone knockout of the evening, with Marion Wilson (5-0-1) of Hillcrest Heights dropping Bruce Johnson (7-12) of Youngstown, Ohio, midway through the third round of their scheduled eight-round cruiserweight bout.