In the USA, the rise of the betting industry can be chiefly attributed to two sports: horse racing and boxing. The big fight nights on Las Vegas’ strip have drawn in masses: punters and pundits alike are ringside, desperate to get in on the action.
Knowing how to bet on boxing is the easy part but having a savvy eye for guessing who will win? Well, that can be much trickier to figure out. One of the interesting things about some sports is that bettors have an aversion for wagering on odds-on favourites, with boxing accumulator tips focusing on the underdog
But that is often proven to be folly. Take the example of the Joe Smith Jr vs Callum Johnson tussle scheduled for January 16. Smith Jnr, the WBO light heavyweight champion, is on home soil in New York, and he possesses such punch power that he has defeated two quality opponents – Bernard Hopkins and Eleider Alvarez – by literally hitting them out of the ring.
Johnson, meanwhile, is a journeyman pro who, at 36, has only occasionally shared a bout with an elite-level opponent. For this fight, Smith Jr is clearly the smart play at sportsbook odds of -225, and that’s one reason you shouldn’t ignore hot favorites in your boxing betting.
Outclassed and Outmatched
As promising aspiring fighters make their way in the sport, they are typically ‘protected’ in their early development fights by taking on opponents who are emphatically equally skilled. For example, former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua had to wait for 13 fights, across a span of 18 months, before he fought an opponent of note.
From a boxing betting perspective, it was incredibly unlikely that Joshua was going to lose any of his first 12 fights – meaning that, even though he was a red-hot favourite with the bookmakers, there was still value to be had in backing him. When you can spot classy, burgeoning fighters being given a chance to showcase their skills against overmatched and outclassed opponents, you should still consider wagering upon them even at odds-on prices.
The Smart Bet
By its very nature, boxing is a punishing sport both physically and mentally. Consequently, there are only so many times that a fighter can ‘go to the well’ and at some point, many fighters hit the wall. It’s why the CVs of even the greatest boxers can be littered with defeats towards the end of their career, or why previously untouchable stars start to get tagged with shots that dump them on the canvas.
One boxing betting strategy is to avoid fighters that have tasted multiple defeats, even if they remain a classy operator. In sports wagering, many of us bet with a confirmation bias that comes from past performances, backing fighters that were once the best in the business.
Instead, we should be focusing on the now: what is the physical and mental shape of the boxers in the bout? Because once the veil of invincibility is lifted by a defeat, self-doubt and a lack of confidence can set in.
Side Bet Strategy
At its heart, boxing is a very simple sport – there’s a winner and a loser, or in the rarest of cases a fight ends in a draw. With our bets, we can actually drill down into boxing by examining the sub-markets that most bookmakers offer.
We can try to predict how a bout will be finished (KO, stoppage, points decision), or when a fight will be concluded by betting on the specific round we expect the decisive punch to be thrown.
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In doing so, we can increase our odds while remaining true to our original plan. For instance, we have already learned about Joshua’s prowess early in his career. He won each of his first 13 fights by knockout inside six rounds, giving punters an excellent angle for their bets.
Boxing betting can be an exciting pursuit that adds extra intrigue when watching those big fight cards from your armchair and if you follow these three-pointers, you might just find yourself enjoying some winning bets along the way too.