Robert Guerrero faces Selcuk Aydin on Showtime tonight. (Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime)
Tom Craze takes a look at the betting side of things for 2012 Olympics boxing and Saturday's Robert Guerrero vs Selcuk Aydin fight.
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The risk-reward ratio is at the very core of the thinking of most sport traders. With every bet placed comes a certain level of vulnerability, an exposure from which everything could be lost. The most successful at what they do are those who can calculate how best to manage this risk, how to determine whether their gamble is worth the money.
[ Fight Preview: Guerrero vs Aydin, Undercard ]
On Saturday night, it's the same risk-reward dynamic that's at the heart of Showtime's main event, and it's one that the two fighters involved know all too well. Robert Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) returns after 15 months away, having learned the hard way that the truly big challenges he craves - call-outs to Mayweather, Pacquiao, Marquez and Khan have proved fruitless over the past year - are ultimately only decided by those with a keen eye for this particular strand of asset management. Unbeaten for the best part of seven years, Guerrero is a talented, intelligent fighter who does most things well and some things outstandingly so. But he's not box-office and the dangers he'd likely present to most in the top tier greatly outweigh the boost that their careers, or bank balances, would get should they beat him.
Guerrero's opponent tomorrow night will tell us that he's been avoided for far too long, a victim of a similar situation. Seycuk Aydin (23-0, 17 KOs) has, too, seen the breakthrough fight he feels he deserves slip away. His pursuit of Andre Berto was long, vocal, and somewhat convoluted, but with the Guerrero he not only returns to the US, but has a better chance of pulling what would be a reasonable upset, viewed by many - particularly casual observers - as just another ranked European, but no major threat.
Aydin - the +300 dog - might well prove to be just that, but there's plenty of reason to believe he's simply more than an opponent here. He has his limitations, but there are enough questions surrounding Guerrero's return to raise some reasonable doubt over his firm favouritism here and the skinny -400 (and tightening) quote that's available looks far from a lock. Indeed, Guerrero, in many ways, goes into tomorrow night with it being the reverse of the type of fight he hoped to engineer for himself. Aydin presents a legitimate risk, but brings little name value. The reward for Guerrero, jumping up to welterweight and skipping a division altogether, is up for debate. Aydin wouldn't be the best name on his record. It would go some way to doing so, but it's arguable that a win here would truly establish himself in the division. For Aydin, he risks his first career loss, but the upside is huge, and a tetchy weigh-in, together with his pre-fight promise to ‘tear into [the] soul' of Guerrero suggest he's happy to take the chance.
It's an interesting style clash, and a fight that, when broken down simplistically, can be viewed in two ways. Guerrero, stepping up in weight, seems unlikely to suddenly develop real knockout power, having never been a puncher at any of the three most recent divisions he's briefly campaigned in.
On paper, a 54% KO rate looks to tell the story. A closer look shows that his last two fights were against men renowned for their toughness and heart, in Katsidis and Escobedo. Klassen, too, had never been stopped. A mid-rounds beating over the overmatched Arrieta in 2010 was the last time Guerrero got the job done inside the distance, but really you have to look back to his time at 126 for any consistency in stoppage wins. A best priced +2.75 for him to do the same against a natural, established, unbeaten welterweight would, on that basis, hold little appeal.
In contrast, Aydin's strength - and best chance of victory here - is in his ability to force the stoppage. Two close, contentious decision wins over Jo Jo Dan fail to disguise the fact that Aydin has real power and often ends things early. Guerrero weighed in with plenty to spare, which may not mean a great deal, but does almost certainly mean that he'll be the smaller man tomorrow night. How does he react to being hit flush by a fully-fledged welterweight, let alone one who hits this hard? If Aydin can force the issue, making it his fight early and encouraging Guerrero to stand and trade, the +500 for the stoppage begins to look reasonable. Aydin is an aggressive, compact fighter, who'll look to close the distance and rough up Guerrero on the inside. Any win inside the distance would, you'd imagine, come by way of sheer volume and persistence, rather than a showreel knockout.
Conversely, this is a fight that, the longer it goes on, feels like it would be Guerrero's to lose. Aydin can sometimes look crude, but he's no brawler, and his distinguished amateur career proves the point. He is, however, up against a guy that just appears to do the fundamentals better.
Guerrero is a polished and versatile boxer-puncher and his excellent, incisive southpaw jab is absolutely crucial to the outcome here. Should he get it working to his advantage in the same way that he did against Katsidis (as a -135 favourite going into that fight), it could well develop into the clinic he promises it will be, and Aydin could be in for a long night. A disciplined, measured performance from Guerrero would make the even-money that's available on a decision win look more than fair, although a variance across the market means you'll already get no better than -150 in places.
For Aydin to get the points nod - something he's become accustomed to following the two debatable wins over Dan - prices go as high as +1400 and, considering this particular style match-up, it's rightly the rank outsider of the four most popular outcomes.
It may not be entirely in the Olympian spirit to view wall-to-wall tournament schedules from a betting viewpoint, but there's plenty of opportunity.
The very nature of the amateur game means that there's an adjustment in mindset needed - the puncher's chance is, as a rule, generally less of a consideration and it's often simply the superior technicians that either consolidate their standing at the top or emerge from the pack. The very best of these, Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko, is appropriately the shortest price of any outright winner across the weight classes. He's as short as -250 in places to add a second successive Olympic gold to his collection and his dominance dictates that one of his closest rivals, Italy's Domenico Valentino starts off in double figures (+1200) to unseat the champion.
A more tempting outright price comes in the form of China's vastly experienced Shiming Zou, and +137 for another gold looks reasonable. The market chaser is Shin Jong-Hun of South Korea, but +250 looks short for the debutant to cause the upset, particularly considering the 20-11 margin he was on the wrong end of in the 2011 World Championship final.
Hopes are high for the medal chances of the British contingent, but with the influx of patriotic money comes the likelihood that prices get pulled from where they really should be. At bantamweight, Luke Campbell has been backed into +250 in places, on a par with the general market leader, Cuba's Lazaro Alvarez. Frankly, that's wrong. Campbell is talented and could well finish with a medal - possibly even gold - but the discrepancy in the odds is surprising. A more realistic estimation of where Campbell sits going into the Games is the best-priced +650, but 500-600 is more widely available.
An interesting candidate could be the Welshman Andrew Selby at flyweight. At +333, he's a general second-favourite to Russia's Misha Aloyan (+225), but is a classy operator and can make adjustments from what was a tight loss in Baku. Rau'shee Warren is priced up as a +1200 shot, suggesting he'll put in a career-best Olympic showing, but little more. It's a price that could look very big should one of the front two drop out earlier than expected though.