It may not carry the same weight it used to in the world of sports, but boxing is still a major source of income for sportsbooks and skilled gamblers. Whether it’s the inaccessibility of many of the fights or simply a dwindling interest, it’s hard to believe boxing was once at the forefront of sports betting worldwide. In fact, some of the biggest fights have rivaled Super Bowls for total money wagered.
Its status may have changed, but the sport itself is no less fun to bet on now than when names like Ali, Frazier, and Holyfield danced around the ring. While even today the general sports public is familiar with the most popular fighters such as Mayweather and Pacquiao, there’s plenty of money to be made in fights featuring lesser-known boxers.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the city of Las Vegas during a boxing match, you’ll see firsthand just how crazy bettors will get at sportsbooks.
Whether you’re a lifelong fan or looking to get your feet wet, if you put in the time and research, you can turn punches into dollars. Here are five tips and betting strategies for boxing to consider before throwing down your money.
1 – Look at the Moneyline
If you have experience in sports betting, this should be a common-sense place to start when you’re looking to gamble on a fight. If you’re not sure how the moneyline works, I’ll explain. Each fighter has their own “line.” An example would be “Mayweather -600.” This means you would have to bet $600 to win $100. On the other side would be the underdog, whose odds might look something like “Canelo +250,” meaning a $100 bet would win $250.
It’s not unusual to have huge favorites that require a bet of $1,000 (or more) just to win $100. You may be thinking that betting on a huge favorite means a guaranteed win, and usually, you’d be correct. However, one loss when you bet on a heavy favorite could erase a half dozen wins you had before it. Recognize the risk vs. reward in betting on favorites and choose accordingly.
2 – Over/Under Bets
One of the most exciting aspects of boxing (or any combat sport for that matter) is seeing how long two fighters will be able to keep going. This is where the over/under comes into play for bettors.
Maybe you have a feeling an early knockout is in the cards, or perhaps you think two evenly-matched fighters are expected to go the distance. Either way, there are a range of factors to consider when betting the over/under on how many rounds will take place.
The first thing to recognize about this type of bet is that it’s usually not an equal return on both the over and the under. For example, let’s say it gets set at 10.5 rounds. Betting $100 on the over might return $150, while betting on the under might only return $80. It’s crucial to check the moneyline numbers even on these types of bets.
It’s also important to note that over/under bets are pretty unforgiving, especially in a sport where there are several variables out of your, and sometimes the fighter’s, control. If the fighter hurts his ankle and can’t continue, it counts. If the roof malfunctions or rain stops the fight, it still counts.
Another consideration when betting the over/under is the ref. Many boxing referees have developed reputations for ending fights early or letting them go on longer than expected.
3 – Know When to Hold ‘Em
If you’ve got the pizza, beverages, and buddies ready for a long night of watching boxing, it can be tempting to throw down a bet on every fight on the card. If you’re looking for entertainment and don’t care about losing money, go for it. If you’re looking ahead with a little extra in your bankroll, consider betting less fights.
Not only is it a good idea to resist the urge to bet on every single fight, it can be in your best interest to focus all of your money on just one fight. In order to give yourself the best chance to win, you need to research the ref, the styles, and other nuanced aspects of the match. It’s unlikely you’ll want to put in this effort for each fight.
Keep in mind that the fight you choose to bet on doesn’t have to be the main event. Tremendous value (and sometimes easier picks) can be found in any fight of the evening. Above all, just do your research and choose what feels most comfortable.
4 – Keep Up With the News, But Avoid Public Opinion
In case you’re new to sports betting, I’ll catch you up on one of the widest-held beliefs in the world of sports gambling: Fading (betting against) the public has long been considered one of the most reliable strategies for winning in the long-term. Boxing is no different.
Simply put, the public is relatively uninformed and tends to bet with their heart. And I can’t blame them… Who doesn’t love a good comeback story? A good habit to get into when placing bets is doing some personal research on the available data then making your own decision, completely independent from public sentiment.
Remember that sportsbooks set things up so that they can win money. A great way to do that is by playing on the public’s tendency to make bad decisions. I’m not saying to always go against the public if you have a strong feeling one way or the other, but when in doubt, go the other way.
5 – Prop Bets
Everyone loves a good prop bet… And a boxing match provides a great arena to throw down a few of your own. Here are a few of my favorites:
Will There Be a Knockdown?
- This one is pretty straightforward. However, it’s important to remember that this refers only to official knockdowns, which means that a count must be given by the referee.
Will There Be a Point Deduction?
- Point deductions can happen for a number of reasons and is always at the discretion of the referees. If you’re considering placing this prop bet, it’s imperative that you do your research and know the tendencies of the ref.
Will There Be a Knockout?
- Don’t know who which fighter to pick but want to root for the big, crushing knockout blow? This one is for you! It doesn’t matter who wins, as long as the fight ends in a KO.
Note that a knockout can be a fight that ends when a referee counts to 10, or if the referee stops a fight even while the fighter is still standing. Additionally, if the trainer stops the fight at any point, it’s considered a knockout. Disqualification? You guessed it, also a knockout.
Will the Fight End in a Draw?
- The trick to this prop bet is that you can only bet on it being a draw. You can’t bet that a fight won’t end in a draw. You’ll usually get some pretty strong odds on this type of bet because judges don’t want fights to end in a draw. It might not hurt to throw a couple dollars on this prop, but I wouldn’t recommend making it your main wager.
There are other prop bets available in addition to those I’ve listed, but these are the most popular. If you have the opportunity to visit the world’s largest sportsbook located inside the Westgate Resort & Casino, you’ll have plenty of prop bets to choose from.
Boxing has been a favorite event of the biggest sports bettors for decades. Even today, with its diminished prominence, hundreds of millions of dollars are wagered on big fights.
Don’t let your lack of boxing knowledge get in the way of getting in on the action. Do your research, start following a few fighters, and you might just become a fight fan.