In boxing, some fighters are fixed on nothing but that quick, knockout punch. Other fighters tend to slow down the pace and work their way around their opponents, exercising a seasoned jab and demonstrating a cerebral style of fighting. Much like the difference between the styles and methods of our beloved pugilists, those who bet on boxing tend to vary from the headhunter to the smart and measured technician.
Boxing is a sport that ultimately comes down to the performance of both men/women on the night. Inside the “chamber of truths,” as Teddy Atlas likes to call the ring, we get to witness the culmination of the hard work and effort of grueling training camps, intense pressure, and each fighter’s heart and desire for glory. Oh, and lots of punches, if we are lucky. Unlike other sports, you don’t play boxing.
When it comes to betting, you shouldn’t play with your money either. Well, not if you expect to maintain any consistent level of profit. If you are happy throwing money away to your heart’s content, who’s to stop you, right? Conversely, if you are inclined to make smart choices when betting, much like the cerebral style of a Floyd Mayweather – a fighter who minimizes mistakes at all costs – then I’m confident you will find some helpful tips, below.
Of all the sports in the world, boxing is one that is synonymous with trash talk, cockiness, aggression, and selling wolf tickets. As such, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and lose your head when placing your bets. Below, I will explain how keeping your head and using common sense when betting on boxing is the way forward, in addition to a few other strategic hints and tips.
Do you know that the sport of boxing we know today was developed from organized bare-knuckle fighting hundreds of years ago? Well, things kind of go back even further than that, to 688BC, when a sport that resembled boxing was a key part of the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. While it is unprovable that any betting activity occurred in the Ancient Greek games, bare-knuckle bouts attracted a lot of gamblers.
In its present-day format, boxing and gambling are synonymous. The sport (along with MMA) is as close to modern gladiatorial warfare that we have today. Watching two incredible athletes, at the peak of human conditioning, go toe to toe with one another inside a ring is as good as it gets. It is modern prizefighting at its best, even if the greed of many promoters and fighters have seen big fights become a rarity.
Boxing might have suffered a decline in popularity from its days as a mainstream sport, but there are unquestionable superstars still out there, doing their thing. Modern-day legend and pioneer, Vasyl Lomachenko, sums up everything that is beautiful about the “Sweet Science.” Mexican superstar, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, proves that the sport can produce big name fighters with a global appeal.
More than anything, boxing is just that sport that grips us like no other. When the hype, press, and publicity are all done, there is nothing but two gladiators inside the ring, ready to go to war. The ensuing battle sees us on the edge of our seats, urging our fighter to go that extra mile to bring home the victory. With the right bets, a win for that fighter means a happy evening for us betting fans.
When betting on boxing, it pays to think like a boxer. The one consistent lesson that we can learn from the sport is that hotheads usually don’t last very long. While many will have you believe that it is the strongest or toughest competitor that wins on the night, it is usually the smartest fighter. Approaching your bets with a smart and measured attitude will certainly see you in good stead.
Boxing is a sport that still attracts a considerably large, casual fanbase for big fights. Of those who bet on fights from this fanbase, you can be almost certain that their picks do not come down to their deep and complex understanding of how the fight game works. More often than not, casual bets will be influenced by the perceived greatness of a big name fighter and the hype that surrounds them.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to avoid when betting on boxing.
If anyone is looking for your heart, it should be in the furnace. Those attempting to locate your head should find it in the fridge, as cool as the cucumber laid beside it. Betting with your heart on boxing is something that is bound to lead to it breaking. The reason why I am so keen to point this out to you is that, of all sports, boxing is the one that sees bettors consistently make the mistake of doing so.
A fight is a war. If we have a particular affinity with a boxer on the night of a fight (he is from the same town as us, for example), we might value this above common sense. Big mistake. Well, nothing is stopping you from placing a bet on your brother or cousin if they are fighting, but the key is to not make this a habit. One thing you certainly don’t want to do is put large amounts of cash on hunches and sentimental bets.
When it comes down to it, your bet should represent the smartest and most considered prediction. Just because you want to believe that the fighter you loved as a kid – who has come out of retirement for one last bout – will win in the most dramatic and romantic fashion, it doesn’t mean they will. Boxing is cruel and there is no place for sentiment inside the ropes.
Rather than allowing yourself to throw money away on the hope that something magical will happen, assess the reality of the situation. An older fighter coming out of retirement is bound to be a different prospect than what they were in their heyday. Age, ring rust, wear and tear all contribute to a decline in a boxer’s attributes as they age. Yes, George Foreman may be an exception to the rule, but that’s about it (as Bernard Hopkins remained active prior to hanging up his gloves for good).
Those who bet with their hearts tend to gravitate towards the exciting, flashy fighters that catch the eye more than others. These fighters capture the imagination of casual boxing fans, in particular, and this leads to betting lines being affected by the massive amounts of money that are placed on them. The more money riding on a fighter riding the hype train, the more opportunity there is to capitalize on their opponent.
It is crucial to remember that boxing is a sport that thrives on the illusion of dominance for many up and coming fighters. Boxing promoters will take a big prospect and pad their records (match them up against a series of weak boxers) before they even dream of letting them loose against a strong opponent. As such, their opponents may be blasted away with ease. The hyped up fighter will usually come with terrible odds as a result.
At times, the severely unfancied fighter can cause a shock against the hyped boxer. Back in 2008, Britain’s Olympic silver medalist and big prospect, Amir Khan, was knocked out in just 30 seconds by the +800 Breidis Prescott. Khan was a -1600 favorite heading into the bout. What many punters did not take into account was the Colombian’s 17 knockouts in 19 bouts and Khan’s weak chin.
Hyped up fighters can come up short when they are matched up against a decent fighter. Rather than backing these fighters on short odds, look for the value in their opponent. If the other fighter is a journeyman, avoid the bout. If there is a chance that their opponent can beat the fighter riding the hype train, however, there could be value in backing them. In some cases, you could even make money predicting that the hyped-up fighter will be taken the distance, or dropped, for the first time in their career.
As previously mentioned, boxers’ form can look impressive until you scratch the surface a little. These days, many prospects and potential cash cows are protected by promoters and advisors. As such, the impressive records (by the numbers, at least) may be something of a fallacy. If a fighter has a 35-0 record, how many top class fighters have they put away in that 35? If most of their opponents were “tomato cans,” is their seemingly impressive form justified?
A fighter could be heading into a title shot, or a top 5 fight having knocked out their previous 5 opponents in a row. Their opponent on the night could have beaten their last 5 fighters on points. The difference here is that their opponent has beaten 5 of the best contenders in the division while the knockout artist has overcome the challenge of 5 journeymen. If you think about it, who has the better record?
In keeping with this example, the fighter with the 5 knockouts is coming up against an opponent that has not been knocked out by 5 fighters that are better than the caliber of fighters that the knockout artist put away. His chances of knocking out an opponent who has proven himself against the best will be slim. So, ask yourself: what is the better bet? Who has the better form?
In boxing, form is not the barometer of success that it is in many other sports. You should always look at a fighter’s form in detail. Read up on their opponents, or use boxing sites like BoxRec to delve a little deeper into the quality of recent opposition. Always remember that bookmakers’ odds can be heavily influenced by those who heavily back fighters on the basis of what they believe is a great record. As such, there is often scope for value in backing their opponent.
Throughout the years, boxing has been renowned for being a sport that has been influenced by some questionable decisions and shady characters. Some may even go as far as to say that fights have been purposefully fixed in order to make money for those with financial interests in seeing some fighters lose (or win). Legendary boxer, Jake LaMotta, even admitted taking a dive against Billy Fox in 1947 in order to get a title shot.
Boxing is a business, and in business, not everyone always flies straight in order to get an advantage. Sometimes, certain judges have the habit of consistently making mistakes that are judged by some as being a product of incompetence. Others, however, might believe that there is something more nefarious at hand. When it comes down to a fighter not putting their opponent away, the decision is left in the hands of the judges.
One of the biggest things to look out for when betting on boxing is the “hometown advantage.” In short, many believe that judges can sometimes favor a hometown or fighter of the same nationality as a judge/judges. As such, the fighter who has probably won the bout, by general consensus, has been “gifted” the bout on the judges’ scorecards. This is not completely resigned to professional bouts, either, like the infamous case of Roy Jones Jr. at the 1988 Olympics shows.
Are we saying boxing is rigged? No, there is often no proof to say boxing fights have been fixed. Does the sport have a rich history of odd decisions, including wins for fighters that are huge cash cows to promoters? Absolutely. This is why it is always a good idea to take into account who might win between an American superstar and a Russian contender, in a close fight that goes to judges in Las Vegas.
Before almost every major fight, fans will be “treated to” the usual hysteria, trash talk, and pre-fight theatrics that serve to drum up anticipation for a bout. You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking, “hey, these guys really, really hate each other,” especially considering fighters’ threats (of doing everything but bringing a sawn-off shotgun into the ring) are thrown around like cheap confetti.
Yes, it looks as though the hate is real. Sometimes, it is. However, a lot of the time, these guys are faking it to sell tickets and pay-per-view buys. Don’t believe me? Take the words of former heavyweight world champion, David Haye, who recently admitted that the pre-fight antics ahead of his showdowns with Tony Bellew were… manufactured. Does this surprise you? Well, now you know.
Sometimes, there is a lot to be learned in the lead up to fights. Mental warfare can cripple some opponents, especially if there is a genuine rivalry. However, for the most part, the threats of eating children, forcing a beaten opponent to cook rice, and everything in between, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Exaggerated promotion is part and parcel of the deal.
If a fighter is claiming to knock another out inside two rounds, are you going to believe them and put $1000 dollars on them to do it? Or, are you going to use your brain, and check their record. You might find that this boxer hasn’t knocked out an opponent in 5 years, so what are the chances that they will put a fighter with one of the best chins in the business to sleep in 2 rounds? Always bet with your head and not your heart, regardless of how genuine a fighter sounds.
Quite simply, it depends on the fight. This is something that I would like you to think about and take with you before you place your bets. If two flyweight fighters with pillows for fists are taking to the ring, a bet on an early stoppage is unlikely. If two heavyweight knockout artists are fighting for a shot at the title, a visit to KO country may be on the cards for one of them.
The most important things to think about when placing your bets are those that will likely dictate the outcome of that specific fight. Everything from the weight class, to the caliber of fighters, their specialties in the ring, the clash of styles, their records against each other, and what is on the line should come into it. The key is to do some research and consider the most likely factors in the bout.
Of course, I’m not going to just leave you hanging here. Below, I will list three of my favorite bets to place on boxing and those I believe offer the best value for betting enthusiasts.
Sometimes, it is tempting to show off to our buddies with our bets. Things like, “no way, dude, Wilder will knock him out in the fifth second of the fifth round,” may sound impressive, until you have to put your money where your mouth is. Choosing the round you believe the fight will end in is not just difficult, but it is, for the most part, potluck. There are exceptions, but typically, it is a shot in the dark.
A much better bet is to bet on group rounds. If you think about it, a championship fight in boxing has 12 rounds. A group round bet – which is a bet on three rounds of the 12 – means that you can bet on the quarter of the fight that is more likely see an end to the bout. That is, of course, you believe the fight will end in a stoppage. When two fighters are likely to have the power to end a bout, this bet should always be considered.
You can still get some good odds for this type of wager, although betting on a single round will return more (given that predicting the exact round is more unlikely). If you are considering betting on the moneyline, the chances are that the odds will not be too enticing, so this is a good alternative. Of course, if you are dealing with two fighters who are known to go the distance, you should probably avoid this bet.
Not every fighter out there is a consistent knockout artist like Deontay Wilder, just like there is no one who could school his opponents to a decision victory like Floyd Mayweather Jr. In most cases, the odds for a Wilder KO or Mayweather decision would have been relatively short, given that these fighters are known to specialize in stoppages and decisions, respectively.
That being said, a bet on Wilder to knock his opponent out/Mayweather to win on points are sound wagers. When it comes to other fighters, you can analyze what they do best – just like the two aforementioned stars – before placing your bets. Of course, their opponents should come into the equation, too. For example, Wilder could, in theory, have trouble knocking out a world champion with a granite chin and great defense.
This bet can be an excellent choice in the event of a favorite coming with short odds for a fight. The odds may not be through the roof, but they will almost always be better than what you will get on the moneyline. It certainly pays to think about this one, but just be sure to do your homework before you place your bets.
One of the first things you should ask yourself before you place a bet on the fight is if it will go the distance. Of course, you can never tell, but it does bring up a series of questions that – if you try to find out the answers to all – should equip you with an idea of what you can expect. In boxing, just one punch can change everything and end the contest then and there. Is there a fighter in the bout you are betting on capable of knocking the other out?
Perhaps there are two fighters inside the ropes who possess lethal left hooks or overhand rights that have become their trademarks. What are the chances of either guy or girl hitting that sweet spot on the jaw/chin and knocking the other into a parallel universe? If the chances are high, then betting on the fight not to go the distance could be a sensible one indeed.
Of course, bookmakers will have the stats and science behind them when compiling their odds. As such, the odds that are offered for a fight going/not going the distance will be reflected in the price offered for each. There is no doubt that this bet is often the preferred choice of a thinking gambler, as it essentially comes down to one of two scenarios, but with better odds.
Boxing is a sport defined by drama and excitement. While betting on the sport makes it tenfold as fun, it is important not to get carried away in the process. A sensible fighter knows that the sport itself is often a chess match, where observing and acting on the finest details can determine the course of a bout. For a gambler, this same sentiment should apply, if you want to stand the best chance of winning your bets.
The world of boxing is dominated by one-sided matchups these days, as the sport is oversaturated by too many belts and the greed of promoters. This can often lead to quality fighters taking on those who, in reality, have no hope. Where this is the case, odds on the moneyline can be so poor that you would need your head checked to take them. If you cannot find a market worth betting on, avoid betting on the fight.
Luckily, boxing is a sport where you should find a multitude of markets to bet on, depending on the strength and quality of the bookmaker. By understanding the attributes and talent of both fighters, you could potentially spot something that would make a solid bet. Rather than being at the mercy of bookmakers’ poor odds on key markets, look around for specials or prop bets before you decide to abandon betting on the fight at all.
More than any other sport in the world, betting on boxing requires gambling with your head and not your heart. Bet sensible, and protect yourself at all times!