Given the noise that's surrounded the rise to prominence of boxing's latest (self-proclaimed) heir apparent, it's of no surprise that Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) is once again a heavy favourite going into Saturday's Showtime main event against Marcos Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs).
More notable, perhaps, is the belief that, finally, ‘The Problem' has run into a challenge that won't be as straightforward as the lopsided betting odds suggest it will be on paper. There's a sizeable percentage of observers that are waiting for a Broner fall and, given a relatively disjointed showing last time out against the awkward Paulie Malignaggi, a growing belief that Maidana could be the man to expose the Cincinnati native as more a Jeff Lacy than a Floyd Mayweather Jr (Jr).
Broner opened as a firm 1/4 (-400) favourite, but has since been clipped into 1/5 (-500), a market-best price that's held firm all week and is still widely available, although he's as short as -600 in places.
There's a strong argument that says the Argentinian is the highest-quality opponent put in front of Broner to date and, as such, the 1/5 is the biggest price we've seen him quoted at since the Ponce de Leon fight back in March 2011, where Broner went off at around a slim -150. A combination, though, of a wildly-varying calibre of subsequent opposition and Broner simply getting better has meant that a ballpark -150 isn't a price that's been seen since and, should he impress on Saturday, it's one we're unlikely to see for some time.
That said, it's a nod to the ability of Maidana (+400) - and the perceived threat he brings - that Broner's only a three-figure odds-on favourite, rather than the four we've been getting used to. Looking back over the past year or so, Broner has been all of a -1100 (Escobedo), -5000 (Rees), and -1300 (Malignaggi) shot, with only a slight deviation to -600 or so against Antonio DeMarco, a price that, frankly, Broner made a mockery of.
At 3/1, Maidana is cast in the role of betting underdog for the first time since fighting Devon Alexander on the road in February 2012. Looking past a relative stay-busy in Argentina, he's instead been a 3/1 favourite in his two notable fights since, against Jesus Soto Karass and, more recently, Josesito Lopez, both of which he won by stoppage.
Indeed, it's the stoppage that many seem to think he'll need to force against Broner, with some doubtful that the Argentinian will get a fair shake on the cards against the much-heralded A-side, and more marketable fighter, here. 31 KOs from 34 wins suggests it's the route he'll take regardless, and at +700 there's plenty of appeal for Maidana backers anticipating a Broner chin-check. Maidana's never been stopped, but it's Broner inside the distance that the layers have down as the most likely outcome. The bookies make that a slight odds-on shot, with -110 readily available. There's greater than even money (+120) that we hear the final bell.
Braggadocious claims are partly why Broner has the hype he does, and although he's talking about an early knockout - rounds 1 (+2500) and 2 (+2000) have been mentioned - in light of the at-best economical performance we saw against Malignaggi, there's an argument that says we see another safety-first approach. It's worth considering that Maidana's power has been acknowledged repeatedly in the build-up, and any real attempt to end proceedings that early seem unlikely. Previously a best-priced 2/1 (+200), Broner by a second successive decision is now a +187 shot, with the +1200 on the Maidana points nod reflecting the belief that he wins inside the distance or not at all.
Beibut Shumenov (-1200) vs. Tamas Kovacs (850)
Leo Santa Cruz (-1600) vs. Cesar Seda (+1200)
Keith Thurman (-500) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (+550)