Styles make fights. It's probably the oldest sporting adage around, but it still rings true. It would be madness to claim that nearly all rematches are won by the victor of the first fight because you could cite any number of recent examples (Lennox Lewis against Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall, Marco Antonio Barrera against Erik Morales) to prove otherwise but it will still pay in the long run to back the previously successful man if you do your homework.
You need to be sure, however, that the first fight resulted in a genuine, clear-cut victory with no excuses for the loser. Rahman, for instance, beat Lewis because Lewis was under-prepared, McCall won with a fluke punch, while Barrera and Morales were so evenly-matched you would have struggled to pick the winner of their second meeting.
Fight history is littered with examples of boxers having the Indian Sign over a particular opponent. A couple of examples: few people would rate Junior Jones in the same league as Barrera when it comes to lifetime achievement, but Jones beat the Baby-Faced Assassin twice in the space of five months in the mid-1990s and was a big underdog each time. And Barrera was never ill-prepared for a fight.
The career of Jose Luis Castillo provides some superb examples. The Mexican, twice WBC lightweight champion, had lost six and drawn one of his 57 fights by June 2004. Two of his defeats came to Floyd Mayweather Jnr in 2002, which is hardly surprising.
Two more, however, came at the hands of another man much earlier in his career. In 1994 Castillo fought Javier Jauregi for the Mexican lightweight title and was stopped in the tenth round. Two years later they squared up again for Mexican honours, and Castillo was stopped in the tenth round.
And we're not finished yet. In 2000 Castillo pulled off what Ring magazine called the upset of the year by out-pointing Stevie Johnston for the WBC lightweight crown. One of the judges that night gave the fight as a draw, as did two of the judges when Johnston and Castillo went head-to-head for the second time three months later.
You have to feel sorry for Johnston. He was originally awarded the second fight until it was realised that the scorecards had been incorrectly counted. Castillo only found out when Johnston knocked on his dressing room door to hand him back the belt.
Obviously with Johnston the result wasn't the same but the point is worth making. If one fight is very close and there are no excuses on either side, the rematch will almost certainly be equally tight, irrespective of how the bookies bet. And that's important because sometimes an upset winner (or someone beaten in a tight contest) will be allowed to go off at a big price for a rematch.