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Underdogs In Heat

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If I were a betting man... Wait, what am I saying?  I'm worse than all those millionaires from the movie "Rat Race."  I've been known to make wagers on the crying-patterns of widows at funerals in which the deceased was my father.  So when I visited my online bookie this morning to check the odds on the upcoming Pacquiao/Larios bout, I couldn't help but notice a trend of live underdogs in many of this summer's upcoming fights.  

Now, not to jinx myself here, but I've been on a pretty good run betting on underdogs as of late.  There was Freitas/Raheem, Rivera/Garcia, Hopkins/Tarver, and, for the sake of patriotism (I'm Puerto Rican), Quintana/Julio.  After beating myself repeatedly over the head back in March for failing to put some cash on a Toney/Rahman draw (I had it all set, then hesitated to right-click), I decided to safeguard against the possibility of self-flagellation this time around and put down a wager for the Taylor/Wright draw.  That one felt good.  Not to claim I'm the second coming of Nostradamus or anything:  I did take the odds on Judah over Mayweather and, in yet another surge of patriotism, I chose Collazo over Hatton (which is a fight that left a sour taste in my mouth, not because I didn't cash-in, but because I honestly believe Collazo did enough to retain).  

I'm not making predictions for any of these fights (not yet, anyways), but the Saturday after Pacquiao/Larios, we have Karmazin/Spinks on Showtime.  Here, Spinks will be coming in as the underdog, and he'll be moving up in weight.  He has, however, fought at 154 in the past, and he's scored victories at welterweight over the likes of Mayorga and Judah.  Though Karmazin will be coming in as the champ, a glance at his record will tell you that he's never faced anyone with the boxing prowess of Spinks.  He has a loss to ultimate stepping-stone Javier Castillejo (who's soon to be yet another young fighter's stepping-stone when he faces Felix Sturm next month in Germany), and he barely squeaked by an ancient Keith Holmes on the way to his title.  

The week after that, we have Vargas/Mosley Part Deux, with Vargas once again coming in as the underdog.  We saw a very competitive fight the first time around, and one which was very close at the time of the stoppage.  Though the ref was right in calling the bout in the 10th, it is important to note that Vargas was still landing shots, and that he was not dazed or even close to hitting the canvas.  As much punishment as he has absorbed in his career, Vargas is still significantly younger than Mosley.  He knows it's desperation time, and he's reportedly been training harder than ever.  I know I said I wasn't going to make any predictions just yet, but since the snarky Matt Miller already outed this one in the comments section a few days ago, I'll say it officially:  I'm going with Vargas.

On July 22nd, we have Baldomir/Gatti, with the Argentinian coming in as the underdog.  He was supposed to be easy work for Judah, and we all know how that turned out for ole Zab.  The fact is, Baldomir may have 9 losses, but he hasn't lost in his last 20 fights, and he's never been knocked out in his life.  He's the welterweight division's Glen Johnson: a late-blooming journeyman who's sure to give you a fight.  As for Gatti, he's got a pretty crooked number on the L column himself:  he's lost 7 fights, he seems to be on the downslide, and he'll probably have to go 12 hard to win.  Oh yeah, not to mention:  Gatti is not a natural welterweight, whereas Baldomir has been at 147 even since Evita Peron was around.

I couldn't find any odds on Harris/Arnoutis (7/29) or Forrest/Quartey (8/5), so I'll skip a few weeks ahead to Rahman/Maskaev.  These guys already fought once, about six years ago, and Maskaev knocked Rahman out of the ring.  To his credit, Rahman was ahead in the scorecards at the time of the KO.  Now, I have many issues with this fight, the first of which is that it's not PPV quality.  Hell, it's hardly HBO Championship Boxing quality.  In my opinion---other than a lucky punch against Lennox Lewis, which was immediately avenged in a rematch---Rahman has never beaten a top heavyweight, and I don't think Maskaev is even in the top-10 of the division right now.  It seemed for a while as if Margarito would appear on the co-featured fight, which might have made it worthwhile, but no dice on that.  The undercard was announced this past week, and they're not even Boxing After Dark quality fights:  Bobby Pacquiao vs. Humberto Soto, and Jose Armando Santa Cruz vs. TBA.  Unless that TBA turns out to be Diego Corrales or Acelino Freitas, it's not a fight I'm dying to see.  The card is being billed as "America's Last Line of Defense," given that Rahman is the only non-ex-Soviet holding a heavyweight belt.  No matter how they bill it though, HBO and Top Rank are delusional if they think fight fans are going to shell out $50 on August 12th.  But this is supposed to be about underdogs, not shitty PPV cards, so I'll get to the point:  Maskaev has already shown he can take Rahman out.  And as unpatriotic as it may sound:  Who's to say he can't do it again?

Looking down the line yet another week, Arthur Abraham will be defending his middleweight title against Edison Miranda in Germany.  Right now, Abraham (21-0, 17 KOs) is pretty handily favored, and considering he's fighting at home, the numbers may even spread more.  Until recently, I thought Edison Miranda (26-0, 23 KOs), was just another South American prospect with a padded record.  But then I saw him knock out the game Howard Eastman, which is something that neither Hopkins nor Joppy nor Abraham himself could accomplish.  Miranda will probably need another knock out in order to get the W in Germany, and he just might be able to do it.  

As for Pacquiao/Larios this Saturday, Pacquiao is so heavily favored (-800) that it's a very high-risk, low-reward bet.  Larios is not being given the respect he deserves as a proven world champion, and with these odds, he's a pretty good bet.  Nonetheless, my wallet is staying sealed this time around.  Underdogs can't win `em all.