Though a boxing game may fundamentally be about two men standing eyeball to eyeball in the ring, when betting on such a fight is taken into account, a variety of other things come into play if you are targeting to win cash. Jack Houghton explains…
Formats & Tournaments
In the mid-1990s, top-flight tournaments virtually disappeared from terrestrial TV literally transforming boxing into a niche wagering sport, with a majority of British bookmakers only pricing up a minimal number of markets on top-notch events entailing boxers like Naseem Hamed, Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe.
Nonetheless, in recent times, with the persistent ring success by British boxers such as Ricky Hatton, David Haye, Amir Khan and Carl Froch; the extensive availability of the best global-reaching pay-per-view fights; as well as the success of contest formats such as Super Six and Betfair Prizefighter series; the volumes of betting on boxing have shot up, and the prospective boxing punter has never been overwhelmed with so much opportunity and freedom of preference.
However, this opportunity comes with higher risks. With so much available, it is quite easy to wager on fights where you have little knowledge and insight is inadequate, and this is why, now more than ever before, the disciplined, knowledgeable and savvy punter is going to enjoy a notable upper hand in those markets that continue to be ruled by hype and hyperbole far higher than a reasonable analysis of actual prospects of boxing thriving.
Most Popular Markets;
Method of Victory;
Go the Distance?
Tournaments Win Markets.
Look Out for the Value, Not the Winner
Just like in other types, long-term profitability in boxing betting could many-a-times mean relinquishing short-term benefits. Placing your bets on boxers at 1.12 will most probably mean that you will win a significant number of them, but it will be over a span of months. If the 1.12 shots were supposed to be longer prices, then you will have lost cash. Therefore, to steer clear of such scenarios, it is advisable that you disregard the odds on offer till you have made a determination in your own mind about what they should actually be. The ideal method to achieve that is to take into account percentages: what is the possibility of each probable outcome happening?
Consider this example: when Amir Khan met Carlos Molina in a bout in Los Angeles as he tried to restore the past glory of his struggling career, it would have been reasonable to expect Khan to have an 80% chance of beating Molina. Khan had recently secured the services of a new coach and particularly improved on his defensive skills and consistency; he had faced better rivals than Molina; and was much more accustomed to the weight class. Molina, on the other hand, though unbeaten, had not demonstrated his real strength and persistence in expressly stopping his opponents. So in contrast to Khan’s 80% chance, Molina had perhaps a 15% chance of beating his rival, with the remaining 5% being reserved for the likelihood of a draw.
To compute odds from these percentages, divide one by 0.80 (80%) to get odds of 1.25 on Khan winning the bout. Molina then gets 6.70 while a draw is given odds of 20.0. Equipped with these odds, you come to the markets. In the scenario above, Khan had been a much shorter price — around [1.1] — meaning that value-savvy punters would have laid him, bet on Molina, or just left the market altogether. As things turned out, Khan went on to win with a disciplined performance, but following this strategy has a much higher likelihood of bringing long-term benefits than just betting on the boxer you think is going to win using the paltry odds on offer.
Never Over-Estimate Recent Form
As human beings, we tend to overemphasize the importance of recent events. Citing the example of the economist Ha-Joon Chang, most of us — including, quite undoubtedly, Betfair punters — would consider the advent of the Internet much more significant than the washing machine. But there is a strong justification to conclude that, the fact that quite inexpensive household appliances were availed in most homes in the West enabled women to have time to go out and find paid employment thus leading to a far more remarkable impact on the society than our being able to wager on our smart-phones online.
Markets are also not left behind when placing excessive emphasis on recent form in boxing matches is concerned. For instance, in November 2011 when Manny Pacquiao met Juan Manuel Márquez at the ring for the third time, Pacquiao was billed as the overwhelming favourite, with odds of about 1.14 to 12.0 for Márquez, even though the two had been difficult to separate in their previous two face-offs which had ended in a draw for first and facing a split decision in the second bout.
As we are all aware now, Pacquiao won the match, but not without the input of a disputable judging decision, and only one year later, he was beaten by Márquez in a 6th-round stoppage in a 4th bout; that is why it is not easy to really discern what had informed such a disparity in the odds in the first place. The most probable explanation would be this: after their second meeting, Pacquiao went on to easily outshine his next group of opponents while Márquez struggled through a subsequent number of drawn-out, closely-fought matches that also included an emphatic loss at the hands of Floyd Mayweather. The boxing market may have, quite naturally maybe, read these as signs of diverging fortunes between the two, with Pacquiao evidently on the up and Márquez on the down. However, recent form in boxing is much less weighty than other aspects in the determination of the probable winner.
Never Let Yourself to be Fooled by Flamboyance
Among those factors is the fighting style. It is no wonder that just like the market tends to underscore recent form, it also tends to lean towards flamboyant boxers. Odds in a game are somewhat the result of a popularity competition between fighters: punters end up using their emotions to make decisions such that they back the boxer who they want to win rather than the one they would expect to win if they were thinking rationally. Those fighters that are pleasing to the crowd and fans, those that tend to have a confrontational, arrogant, devil-may-care attitude and style are the ones who have a much higher likelihood of being popular, and more so when paired against the more tactical opponents. This is the rationale behind the fact that fighters like Amir Khan, Naseem Hamed and, for other reasons, Ricky Hatton, tend to be over-bet by punters in the UK.
During the assessment of any fight, it is therefore important that emotions are taken out of the picture. In as long as boxing fans of the 1920s may have preferred, and quite undoubtedly envisaged, a win for Jack Dempsey against Gene Tunney, most could not see that the latter had a stick-and-move style, that coupled with his superb counter-punching, was the perfect combination to beat Dempsey. It is very unfortunate that this narrative — of the less-flamboyant, less-popular and purportedly less-interesting boxer defeating the “rightful” winner — has stayed on for all those years of boxing history to the modern times.
This is the basis under which Amir Khan — armed with his freshly-found discipline and defensive skills — is a much more appealing betting proposition in high profile boxing tournaments than he has been in the past. Though he may be having a higher probability of crushing non-entities when he stands one-on-one with them, if any of those can throw a punch — as Breidis Prescott so undeniably can — then Khan will surely struggle.
If you take time to heedfully think about such kinds of stylistic subtleties, and then be cautious of show-boaters, then this will be a sure-fire way of making sure that you have a much more well-informed and disciplined manner of approaching boxing betting, and subsequently reap more benefits.
Keep an Eye Out to the Judges
Being a sport that is so remorselessly simple — where two men just stand toe-to-toe in a square ring and try knocking each other down — boxing is oftentimes anything but just a straightforward matchup of pugilistic expertise. Before placing your bet on any game, remember that about one third of professional boxing bouts are resolved on points. Though it may be true that heavier-weight boxing divisions tend to have a lower number of decision-on-point endings, it is also worth noting that championship fights will deliver more than non-championship ones, supposedly since fighters are better matched in this level.
Therefore, when betting on the winner of a match, be sure to remember that your success could be dictated not by what happens in the ring, but by some other three people seated at the ringside, people who do not have the benefit of the CompuBox-driven data and statistics that boxing broadcasters are delivering to you on your screen that shows which of the two fighters is superior. Instead, they have to subjectively make a decision, in a very short period of time and under immense pressure from many fronts.
In many situations, this has resulted into some harrowing decisions: just as Manny Pacquiao is thought by many to have profited from judging improprieties in his first three mmetings with Juan Manuel Márquez, he also was, conversely, denied some bit of justice when he lost on points to Timothy Bradley in 2012 June.
Frailties in boxing judgments can, in part, be attestable. For instance, Balmer et al showed in a study in 2005 that judges in European tournaments are considerably more likely to make decisions in favor of home fighters. Generally, judges are often accused of much more than just being overly impacted by the aspirations of a partisan crowd. Some of the things they are often criticized for include biasness towards the incumbent; over-awarding work-rate against landed punches; making sure that the boxer that the promoters want to win (that which is more profitable when it comes to future pay-per-view TV deals) actually wins the match; etc.
Besides home advantage, very little of these accusations can be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, the fact that they tend to be evident should serve as a cautionary measure to you before making a decision to place your bet. Be sure to consider the effect judges may have on the result of a bout and adapt your betting stakes appropriately.
Disregard the Noise Surrounding a Fight
To some people, as much as boxing is popular for the happenings in the ring, it is also for the hype and histrionics before a bout. Though this is understandable since fans are also often emotionally attached to the game, it is important that you, as a prospective profitable punter, learn to distinguish between the meaningful information and noise.
In as long as rumors of a boxer shirking in training are widespread, they are often proved untrue; many-a-times commentators, critics and pundits tell you that a boxer is too young, or even too old, even though age is a relatively poor indicator of pugilistic success, particularly in recent years. Protagonists will also have a lot of trash-speaking predictions that ultimately end up having no impact on the final outcome. These, and so many others, are some of the things you are bound to hear in the build-up to any boxing contest.
Therefore, hold on to what you are certainly sure of, that is the past records and performances of the participating fighters. Make use of these as your ultimate guide, disregard all the hullabaloo and you will surely go a long way to ensure that you attain long-term profitability when betting on boxing.