By Ivan G. Goldman
There’s no final deal on the super-fight everyone’s waiting for, but at least two online sports books have already set up lines and are taking bets for Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao on May 2. Floyd has been established as an approximate 3-1 favorite.
5dimes set its line at -290 Mayweather and +230 Pacquiao, meaning you have to put up $290 to win $100 on Mayweather. $100 on Pacquiao can win you $230. Over on Bovada, the line is set at -300 Mayweather and +230 Pacquiao.
They are two of the larger offshore, online sport-betting sites. Their two lines tell us a lot. First, all things being equal – meaning if hidden fees, should they exist, are identical — the smart bettor looking to bet Mayweather takes his action to 5dimes. Wagers on Pacquiao pay the same at both sites.
These lines will keep changing as May 2 approaches – unless, of course, we get definitive word that negotiations fell through, in which case all bets would be erased from the books. No harm, no foul.
And just why is Mayweather so heavily favored? First, no one has ever seen him lose. He is 47-0 (26 KOs). We’ve seen Pacquiao, 57-5-2 (38 KOs), lose twice in just the last two years, by 6th round kayo against Juan Manuel Marquez and by split decision against Timothy Bradley in their first bout. The fact that bettors have seen Pacquiao unconscious on the canvas in need of revival has given many of them an unfavorable impression.
True, lots of experts as well as fans believe Pacquiao got jobbed against Bradley, but if you factor that into the line you discover it doesn’t help him much with oddsmakers. Having the judges score against you even when you seem to have won inside the ring shows you lack juice.
Sports books don’t care who wins the fight inside the ring. They’re interested in which side of the bet they have to pay off.
Mayweather is backed by mysterious advisor/manager Al Haymon who’s widely seen as the most powerful behind-the-scenes operative in the sport, somebody officials prefer not to cross. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has plenty of juice himself, but in this race he’s number two. Also, he’s 83 years old . How much longer can he stay sharp? Bear in mind that these very unsentimental factors aren’t me talking. It’s the money talking. If you want to read fairy tales you’ll have to go elsewhere.
Also, Mayweather would almost certainly award promotional duties on May 2 to Golden Boy, another big player with a future.
Mayweather was awarded a unanimous decision in his bout against Jose Luis Castillo even though he probably should have lost. Why? One, he’s got that clout, but two, he’s a genius at seeming to win rounds when he might not have really come out best. Again, the money doesn’t care about right or wrong. It cares about who has more points.
Even the fact that Mayweather would get the bigger purse works in his favor. If you have trouble scoring a round you just might take that into consideration.
Neither fighter has scored a kayo in years, so gamblers lean toward a decision in this one. All these factors make Mayweather the favorite even before the venue is settled and officials chosen.
Moreover, we know the fight, should it occur, will be in the U.S., and let’s face it, Mayweather is the citizen here. Pacquiao will have a puncher’s chance, the guy with the more serious power. But if the money decides one fighter needs a kayo to win and he hasn’t scored a kayo in his last nine outings, well, that doesn’t make him a betting favorite, does it?
As more Filipinos arrive for the fight, they’ll put their money on their hero, which could make the money line more even. Sports books try to get in the middle of the money so they can take the gamble out of their positions and make a profit no matter who wins. But the Philippines is a poor country. The nation’s total wagers in a huge spectacle like this won’t amount to much.
Where’s the smart money?
We don’t find that out until the winner gets his hand raised.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.