Boxing Odds Comparison

Boxing Odds

Once you have digested all the information you can handle, there is still the question of translating it all into odds. As with any other sport you are interested in betting on, you should really have a go at pricing up boxing matches yourself.

It is far from easy, which probably explains why so few bookmakers are prepared to bet on anything other than the really big fights where they can be guided by Vegas lines.

There are three main considerations that will help you gain an edge when it comes to betting on boxing and they come under the following headings...

Bookmakers do not fall for hype, yet they know full well that the majority of their customers do, so a talked-up Briton will be a good deal shorter in the market than he deserves to be purely because the layers expect that is where the money will go.

One of the best examples of an over-hyped boxer is Prince Naseem Hamed, a three-weight world champion, who made a career out of boxing past-their-prime opponents. Of the 37 opponents Hamed faced, only five stepped into a ring with an unbeaten record. One of those was at the start of his career and turned out to be useless; the other four had never fought at world level before.

The first really big world name that Hamed took on was Tom Johnson in 1997, but Johnson turned pro in 1986, was 35 at the time and ready to be taken out, as a subsequent record of seven defeats in 14 fights up to his 2002 retirement would show.

The only time he took on a genuine at-his-peak world-class boxer, Hamed was completely out-boxed, in April 2001, by Marco Antonio Barrera.

A year earlier Barrera had lost a decision to Erik Morales, another truly world-class boxer, in a verdict that amazed most experts. When the odds were first issued for Hamed-Barrera, Hamed was 2-9 and Barrera 3-1 with Hills. If you had watched tapes of Barrera-Morales and any of Hamed's most recent contests and been unaware of each fighter's reputation, you would have defied anyone to make Hamed favourite.

Hype gives you the impression that a boxer is better than he actually is and punters, particularly patriotic ones, will fall for it most of the time. It can work in your favour in more ways than one. If a boxer has been fed a diet of stiffs there is a fair chance that he will have a good knockout rate and that his punching power will be vastly overstated.

Hamed provides yet another glaring example. One-punch knockouts always look impressive and the Prince had plenty to his name. But when a boxer steps up in class the competition he faces tends to be better able to withstand an opponent's power, even if they aren't good enough to win.

In these instances it is well worth considering backing a prohibitively-priced favourite to win on points. There are very few really explosive punchers at the highest level, whatever their records would suggest.

Of Hamed's last eight fights, two were against boxers who should not have been allowed in the ring. One went 11 rounds and the other five were decided on points. So much for explosive power.

Now that you can bet in-running on the likes of Betfair, you can take advantage when others get sucked in by the hype.

No-one is immune from falling for hype, and that includes TV commentators. In September 2003, Shane Mosley fought Oscar De La Hoya for the second time in an eagerly-awaited clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Sky covered the fight, and commentator Ian Darke, clearly expecting to be dazzled by the skills of Golden Boy De La Hoya, gave one of the most biased commentaries you will ever hear, repeatedly talking of how De La Hoya had 'done a number on Mosley'.

Of course, nearly every viewer on Sky agreed judging by the uproar when Mosley was awarded the decision, but most ringside observers that night thought Mosley was the rightful winner.

It may well have been a controversial decision, but it was never a landslide, yet Betfair's in-running market would have reflected what Darke was seeing rather than what was actually happening.

Darke, who is generally excellent, is far from the only commentator to fall for the hype (in 2004 Eammon Dunphy eulogised about Audley Harrison's brilliant defensive work - against Julius Francis!) but that was a startling example.

One of the most important times for punters is the weigh-in, because it can tell you so much about how a boxer has prepared for a fight. Early in 2004, American broadcaster ESPN released the results of a study it compiled called 'Degree of Difficulty: Sports Rankings'.

An eight-member panel, comprising academics who study the science of muscles and movement, members of the US Olympic Committee and journalists, convened with a view to finding the sport that 'demands the most from the athletes who compete in it'.

Sixty sports were judged in ten categories (agility, analytic aptitude, durability, endurance, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, nerve, power, speed and strength) with marks awarded from 1-10.

Boxing topped the list with an overall mark of 72.37 and was the only sport to score eight or above in five categories. In fact, no others managed to score eight in four categories. The top ten were: 1 boxing (72.37), 2 ice hockey (71.75), 3 American football (68.37), 4 basketball (67.87), 5 wrestling (63.50), 6 martial arts (63.37), 7 tennis (62.75), 8 gymnastics (62.50), 9 baseball (62.25), 10 football (61.50).

Whenever a boxer fails to make the weight it should set alarm bells ringing. Not only is it a psychological blow to the fighter concerned, who must then go away and try to sweat off the excess, it may also tell us something about how his preparation has gone. Something has usually gone wrong if a ten-week training regime results in failure to qualify to fight at the first time of asking.

Weight variation in heavyweights must also be monitored. One of the glaringly obvious examples was James Buster Douglas, who weighed just under 232lbs when shocking Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990, but was a stone heavier when losing to Evander Holyfield eight months later (Douglas really went on a burger-spree after his three-round defeat, ending up at more than 400lbs before getting his act together for a short-lived comeback in 1996).

Bookmakers will also be aware when the difference is so obvious, but the discerning punter can unravel a few gems just by looking at fighters' past weight-records. For example, Lennox Lewis only twice turned out at more than 250lbs in his career. Even more idiotically, the first time (253lbs) was at altitude against Hasim Rahman in South Africa, where he was knocked out in five rounds.

Lewis was 6lbs lighter when gaining impressive revenge just months later, but was 256.5lbs as his career drew to a close with a lucky six-round victory over Vitali Klitschko. He was well behind when Klitschko was stopped due to cuts.

Just a few pounds can make a difference in such a demanding sport, and you should also be wary if a heavyweight comes in unusually light. A heart defect was given as the reason for Evander Holyfield's defeat to Riddick Bowe in 1992, but it could easily have been down to over-training. Holyfield weighed 206lbs for that fight, his lightest for four years and a mark he never approached again.