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The Knockout Guide to Betting on Boxing
Boxing has historically been one of the most popular sports to make a wager. From the underground brawls in the early 1800s to the emergence of the professional game under Queensberry Rules in 1867, boxing has epitomised the one-on-one nature of the sport, with fighters often leaving everything in the ring. These days, many of the big fights are combated in casinos, gambling venues, and hotels. Crowds have had easy access to wagering on the outcome of the battle as far as records go back, with gangsters commonly owning fighters and venues, opening books on a series of illegal contests. Now, it is controlled, however the hunger to place a bet on the big fights are still as strong as it was on the streets of New York in the 19th century. Let’s explore the different types of boxing betting, and how to find the best value in doing so.
Types Of Boxing Bets Available
With a multitude of bets available, let’s concentrate on the traditional markets first before taking a more in-depth look at where the value is most likely to be found on fight night.
To win fight –this allows you to back who you think will be victorious in the battle; as well asbeing able to back the draw at very long odds – never much shorter than 20.0.
Round betting –this allows you to bet on which round you think the fight will end. It will alsoinclude the option to back a points victory or a victory by disqualification. Often it is a tough market to predict correctly!
Total rounds –much like goal betting in football, the rounds will be split on decimals, i.e. under orover 6.5 rounds.
Will the fight go the distance? - this betting option allows you to bet a simple yes or no whetheryou think the contest will finish early (by knockout, technical knockout. or disqualification) or even whether it will go to the judges scorecards.
To score a knockdown –will either fighter knock his opponent down in the fight? This marketallows two options to whether you think it will happen or not.
To get knocked down and win –this is a popular bet in tightly contested heavyweight fights.Anthony Joshua recently got knocked down and won the match against Wladimir Klitschko – you would have got an excellent price for this outcome!
The exact method of victory –this allows you to bet on the winner of the fight and the correct waythat they gained the victory. For example - Anthony Joshua to win by KO.
Depending on the significance of the fight, markets may be limited to just the outright winner of the battle. It’s a lot easier to source value in the plethora of options available when the markets are open for the more prominent televised fights.
How To Find the Best Value Bets
It is a natural option to back the favourite in a boxing contest. However, the rewards for supporting this outcome will be significantly less than the underdog. The bigger the favourite, the less the pay-out will be!
It is in these instances where finding VALUE comes into play. If you have a hunch, a feeling, or just a belief that the underdog is going to win, backing them will prove lucrative to a degree dependent on what price the bookmaker assigned them. The bigger the underdog, the more the payout will be!
Here is a perfect example of a ‘who will win the fight’ bet using the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor boxing match from 2017:
Floyd Mayweather: 1.18
Conor McGregor: 5.0
Here, you are just backing who you think will win the fight.
At 1.18, Mayweather is the overwhelming favourite with his odds reflecting it. In this scenario, you would need to stake £55 on Mayweather to return £65 (winning £10)
However, if you fancied McGregor to upset the odds and win the fight, a £10 bet would return £50 (earning £40).
Knowing when a bet is right to place is all about finding value in the market. It isn’t merely a case of betting on who you think is going to win a contest, more whether you think the price/odds of that team/player is representative of what is likely to play out.
Reverting to the Mayweather vs McGregor example gives us a perfect perspective on value. This particular contest was the miss-match of all miss-matches. However, some diehard MMA and Irish fans were sure that McGregor would pull off an upset in his boxing debut – against arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time. Here we find value in backing Mayweather in a near certainty of a contest.
Sure, staking £55 on Mayweather to return £65 sounds like a huge risk, but in reality, the odds should have been closer 1.05 for Mayweather to win that bout when assessing the form (and lack of) of both fighters. The Mayweather win was nailed on; many punters would have made thousands on backing the American with a substantial stake, with the bookies left smiling on the amount of money wasted on the McGregor victory.
With so many fans backing McGregor to win, the disparity between the odds of each fighter shrunk with the Irishman starting out in June at 8.0 compared to the 5.0 he entered the ring. This example serves to show us that timing of the bets is crucial – often backing early a popular underdog will give you better odds than waiting until the day of the event.
When considering what markets to bet on before a boxing contest, there are many factors to consider. Odds are usually so far skewed in the direction of the favourite that there will be many opportunities to take full advantage of the underdog prevailing. When it comes to the underdog, it’s essential to judge the stock or value of the ‘home’ fighter, to determine whether the underdog is worth backing.
Promotional companies’ prized assets (Anthony Joshua to Matchroom or Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to Golden Boy) are often wrapped up in cotton wool through the beginnings of their career. They are spoon fed victims through their first ten fights until they start building their record full of credible opponents; upsets are a real rarity here, and their odds will reinforce this. However, all promotional companies will have fighters who are deemed less important to protect, with a loss on their records that will not be something that will define their careers. These ‘cannon fodder’ fighters will fight on the undercards of the stars against the well-matched opposition. However an upset is a lot more common. A lot of these opponents will be unknown to the boxing community, let alone the odds compilers, so their prices will often be unrepresentative of the threat they pose.
Take Dereck Chisora for example. The former world title challenger was looking to rebuild his career on Matchroom promoted shows, and last November fought for the European title in Monaco against the lesser known Agit Kabayel. Chisora went on to lose that fight where he could be found as short as 1.7 to win the fight before they touched gloves. Kabayel is one of many to upset the applecart against ‘home’ fighters who aren’t valued as highly as they would hope – it is possible to find value bets in these situations.
Group round betting can also show fantastic value in 50/50 fights where you are reluctant to picka winner. Backing the contest to finish in between rounds 9-12 can usually prove profitable in these instances, especially when one of the two fighters knowing he is losing on the cards. They are more likely to empty the tank in the last few rounds; leaving himself to be countered or get the win in emphatic style. Picking individual rounds is a tricky business and should left for punts on first-round knockouts. If you have a strong inclination that an opponent is severely under-matched, having a small flutter on a first-round knockout will provide excellent value.
Like any sport – boxing is hard to predict correctly over a sustained period continually. From Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson to ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, and Manny Pacquiao, a majority of fighters will eventually lose inside the squared circle; picking what fights to bet on carefully tends to prove the most profitable from a betting perspective. A popular underdog is often best to avoid, as their price will have come in considerably as you approach fight night. A heavy favourite, on the other hand, is often still worth backing even if the price is as low as 1.15.
Upsets aren’t very common amongst the sport's elite (during the pump of their career), so if you can sniff out any value, it’s often going to be worth a substantial stake. However – if Buster Douglas’ victory over Mike Tyson in 1990 is anything to go by – boxing still has its shocks even at the highest level. A costly reminder of why we adore the unpredictability of the fight game so much.