Boxing betting is dealt with in various ways. It really depends on the sportsbook. It is not the most popular sport that is wagered on, and that represents a difference from 60 or 70 years ago, when private bookmakers would handle a large volume of transactions. Therefore, there are going to be sportsbooks that are much more aggressive than others when it comes to which fights they will post.
All of the books will have the major pay-per-view fights, including, for example, those that feature fighters like Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Others will deal with more than that, including title fights that will be televised. And still others will try to capture the boxing betting audience by posting a wide range of fight odds including smaller, less publicized cards from around the world.
Unlike the UFC, you are not likely to find fights buried deep on undercards that will carry a number with them. Fights that go less than ten rounds hold very little interest, and most fights that gain attention are scheduled for twelve rounds these days.
In terms of what is standard, boxing betting odds are represented by a money line. It won’t look much different than this:
12 Rounds – XXX Middleweight Championship
Fighter A -400
Fighter B +300
You’ll also see the site where the fight takes place (no small consideration, because “hometown decisions” sometimes happen) and the approximate time of the fight (subject to change to some extent, due to TV scheduling).
There is some flexibility when it comes to the difference between what favorite bettors have to “lay” and what underdog bettors get to “take.” This will usually reflect how much risk the sportsbook wants to be exposed to, which in turn is a reflection of how much confidence their oddsmakers have with regard to their knowledge of the fight. Don’t be surprised if in some fights that were considered by many to be non-competitive, the favorite would be, say, -2500 while the dog is +900. Generally speaking, this is not a fight you’ll find value with.
Propositions on how many rounds the fight will go are not uncommon. And they will almost always be expressed in terms of half-rounds. It may look something like this:
Over 9.5 Rounds -150
Under 9.5 Rounds +110
As you can see, there is both a “proposition” and a “payout” here. The proposition involves the number of rounds. In this instance, “9.5 rounds” means that the fight would have to go beyond the 1:30 mark of the tenth round (rounds are three minutes apiece) to go “over.” The payout involves the price that the proposition is attached to. Here, the “under” pays +110, which means that for every dollar someone would wager, the return is $1.10. If the sportsbook wants to make an adjustment in the odds, it may not touch the number of rounds, but instead might move the payout figures up or down.
The more industrious sportsbooks will also offer prices on numerous round totals. For example, you may even see an over/under for 3.5 rounds, or 5.5 rounds, but these are not slam-dunk props because you will see the prices adjusted accordingly.
The winner and the total are by no means the only things a boxing bettor can wager on. There are a lot of possibilities. One of them is to be the “exact result” which might look something like this:
Fighter A by KO, TKO or Disqualification -120
Fighter A by Decision or Technical Decision -180
Fighter B by KO, TKO or Disqualification +500
Fighter B by Decision or Technical Decision +450
When you see this prop, you may find some value, especially if you have a strong feeling about how the fight will end, and/or how dominant you feel one fighter is over another.
There is more.
On some of the bigger fights, you can also wager on the precise round where the fight is going to end, and who will emerge as the winner. So in a twelve-round fight, there are 24 different possibilities.
When it comes to handicapping boxing, there are certain things you must remember. You may have heard a saying used in boxing circles that “styles make fights.” This may be an oft-beaten cliche, but it is true. That’s how Fighter A can beat Fighter B, and Fighter B can beat Fighter C, yet Fighter A can be easily handled by Fighter C.
There are a lot of “between the lines” things you can interpret about reports on boxing that are published in newspapers and on the internet. Instinct becomes important here. Every trainer in the world will tell you about how good his fighter looks in the gym. Sparring partners are paid to give fighters work, not to be competitive against them in the gym, so take any tales of fighters “looking great in sparring’ with a grain of salt.
There is certain “past performance” data that turns out to be useful in the process of betting on boxing matches. It may not be as comprehensive as that which you can find in a Daily Racing Form, but there is some information out there. To be successful, it helps to be able to interpret the information and be effective at cross-referencing.
Boxrec.com is a good place to find records. You can see the line-by-line record of a fighter, which includes the result, the date and site of the fight, the record of the opponent, and sometimes a few comments about knockdowns or the figures on the judges’ scorecards.
Oh, and speaking of the judges’ scorecards, you might occasionally be able to find a proposition bet that offers a point spread on the scores of all three judges combined. This brings into play the factor of styles and how that might make one fighter clearly more efficient against another. A lot of fight fans believe that the aforementioned Pacquiao could defeat Mayweather. Juan Manuel Marquez had three very tight bouts against Pacquiao (including a draw) and then scored a knockout win. Yet when a younger Marquez fought Mayweather he was beaten by nine, eleven and 13 points, respectively, on the judges’ cards, which represented total domination.
So go figure.