By Ivan G. Goldman
The betting public sees very little chance of Robert Guerrero defeating Floyd Mayweather on Saturday, and that’s to be expected. But what leaps out in those numbers is the gambling world’s conclusion that Guerrero has an even worse chance of winning by decision than he does of scoring a knockout.
Although the odds are changing all the time and aren’t standard at all the Nevada sports books, the last I checked, a wager on Guerrero to win by kayo would pay 8 to 1, but a bet on him to win on the scorecards would pay an even heftier 10 to 1. It’s generally harder to stop a good fighter than it is to prevail over the distance, but in this case the public and the oddsmakers have pretty much concluded that no matter what happens in that ring, Guerrero has virtually no chance of getting two of the three judges to agree that he won on points against the Number One pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Cynics might conclude that Las Vegas is a less than ethical place to obtain a fair outcome, that “Money” Floyd brings so much cash to town that the judges in the MGM Grand will keep him on top even if they have to gang-tackle “The Ghost” Guerrero themselves. But there’s more to it than that. Judges, being human, tend to see what they expect to see, and what they expect is that Mayweather, 43-0 (26 KOs), will win, as usual. After all, he has a tremendous reputation earned by beating a long line of excellent opponents that stretches back nearly 17 years.
Sure, Guerrero has an impressive record of 31-1-1 (18 KOs), but it just doesn’t compare, particularly when you compare the names and accomplishments of the defeated fighters. Mayweather has knocked off a Hall of Fame roster — Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jose Luis Castillo. I could go on. Whenever I run into someone who still claims Mayweather is all talk, I remind them he made the great Diego Corrales look slow and clumsy, knocking him down five times before his corner mercifully threw in the towel in round ten.
Sure Guerrero’s victories over Andre Berto, Selcuk Aydin, and Enrique Sanchez mean something, but they don’t even up the score.
If you want to bet on Guerrero to win period, whether by kayo or decision, the odds are approximately +500, depending on where you place the bet. So $100 can win you $500. A wager on Mayweather is about -800, meaning you have to bet $800 to win $100. Basically the sports books are telling us they don’t want to take that bet, but if you insist on making it, they’ll take a crazy advantage. After all, anything can happen in there. Floyd could throw out a shoulder or become violently ill, and a win is a win. The odds don’t care what is fair. They are all about outcome. The betting odds on a fight can weave a compelling story all by themselves.
The proposition bets on Mayweather winning by decision have been fluctuating, but recently they were about 1 to 2, meaning a Mayweather decision is considered the likeliest possibility. A Mayweather win by stoppage pays about 7 to 4, even though the expectation is that the tough Guerrero won’t show up just to get a paycheck and go the distance. He’ll really try to win, which means he will take chances, and that gives Floyd more opportunities to open him up and shut him down. Although Mayweather isn’t famous for taking chances in order to create an exciting finish, when the opportunity presents itself, he takes it. Ask Ricky Hatton.
The over-under in this fight also says plenty. It’s set at eleven and a half rounds, and a bet that the fight will exceed that is, depending on where you go, somewhere between -290 and -255. Here bettors have decided the fight will probably go the distance. A wager that the bout will go under eleven and a half rounds pays between +205 and +230. The sports books just don’t see it happening and are willing to offer you a premium for the wager.
Also notice that the oddsmakers are paying very little attention to the fact that Mayweather is a long-in-the-tooth 36 versus Guerrero’s prime age of 30. Are they right about that? Ask me on Sunday.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE