There are three annual events on the sports calendar in which the mainstream media welcomes sports betting with open arms and opinions: Super Bowl, March Madness and the Kentucky Derby.
There is, however, a fourth occasion that pops up every so often – like the August 21 solar eclipse – that has the 24/7 sports news cycle spitting out odds like a Las Vegas wiseguy: a big prize fight. And by the sounds of it, no fight in history will be bigger than Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor.
That statement is a little crazy, considering the most-hyped boxing bout of all time involves only one real boxer. Mayweather is unquestionably one of the greatest to step between the ropes, and is arguably the top defensive boxer the sport has ever seen.
The guy is a ghost in the ring, with elite footwork, hand speed and overall boxing smarts mixing together for a potent counter-punching potion that brings Mayweather into this August 26 fight with an unblemished record of 49-0 and has only seen the five-division title holder in trouble a handful of times during his 21-year career.
That’s why Mayweather opened as a -10,000 favorite when this matchup with MMA star McGregor was rumored in May 2016 – a realistic line for such a mismatch in boxing skill. This line has since morphed into a reflection of the sportsbooks’ need to have “public friendly” odds on the biggest fight ever as well as the mainstream support for McGregor – with a heaping of hatred for Mayweather stirred in.
Regardless of the current odds, Mayweather is the overwhelming favorite and deservedly so. That makes giving three reasons why you should bet on Mayweather over McGregor very easy. Almost as easy as this fight should be for Floyd…
Reason No. 1: The odds
As mentioned above, this bout is priced for the public. Priced to sell, if you would. That opening line of Mayweather -10,000 is an unbettable number – asking bettors to wager $10,000 to only win $100. No sports gambler, sharp or square, would get involved in that.
That’s why when the fight was close to official, most sportsbooks either opened or adjusted their Mayweather-McGregor betting odds to Mayweather -1,000 with McGregor coming back as a +700 underdog. And even that was a lot to ask from the casual bettors – wagering $1,000 to win $100 on Mayweather – which explains the one-sided action on McGregor and the massive swing in the fight odds.
Public players and MMA enthusiast have piled on the Irishman, eyeing that underdog payday, betting McGregor with both fists in the months leading up to fight night. Those $10, $20, $50 and $100 bets have slowly accrued into a mountain of liability for sportsbooks, with the random large bet on Mayweather temporarily tempering the line adjustments.
You can now get Mayweather around -550, almost half the price of the opening line. To put those odds into perspective, Mayweather was a -3,500 fave versus Andre Berto in September 2015, a -230 favorite against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, and around -1,000 in his second bout with Marcos Maidana back in September 2014.
Sure, Mayweather has been out of the gloves for some time since those bouts but he handled those world-class fighters with ease. Now he’s going against a first-time boxer and is discounted like Halloween candy on November 1.
As my colleague, Patrick Everson, wrote when the odds were Mayweather -1,000, “If this was your 401(k) plan or an IRA, you’d be thrilled at a 10 percent return on investment.” Now you’re getting almost 20 percent – minus the $100 bones to watch this bet cash live on pay-per-view.
Reason No. 2: The skill
We’ve already touched on Mayweather’s talents in the ring as well as his undefeated record. But despite those things and probably in good part to Mayweather’s polarizing personality, he still doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
Boxing purists and they’re now few and far between, will gladly rank Mayweather’s work in the ring among the all-time pound-for-pound best fighters. His out-of-ring antics and legal issues definitely tarnish what should be a celebrated sports career.
CompuBox statistics state that Mayweather has landed 43.4 percent of his career punches while limiting foes to just under 19 percent – a +24.5 plus/minus rating. Plus he’s only gotten better with age, taking down world-class competition in the final decade of his career.
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