Gennady Golovkin (-1400) vs. David Lemieux (+1100)
It speaks much of Gennady Golovkin's uniquely winsome - and simultaneously entrancingly violent -career that his highest-profile fight to date, involving an opponent who is by far the most dangerous opponent he's faced, still sees him wind up as a landslide betting favourite.
Golovkin's middleweight reign of terror, in terms of odds, reads well for fans of zeroes and written expressions of large negative numbers. Going back as far as Golovkin's HBO debut, against the fleet-footed, but ultimately hopelessly overmatched, Grzegorz Proksa, for which the amiable Kazakh was - at worst - a modest -500 (1/5).
Since then, the bookmakers have treated Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) with extreme caution, demonstrated by his prices against Rosado (-2500), Ishida (-5000), Macklin (-1500), Stevens (-1400), Adama (-5000), Geale (-900), Rubio (-5000), Murray (-1600), and Monroe Jr (-10000). It's hardly murderer's row, but the regularity and style with which the WBA champion has been dispatching these men - fringe contenders though most of them have been - has got most boxing enthusiasts rather excited indeed.
This, a unification with IBF beltholder Lemieux (34-2, 31 KOs), feels like one of those can't-miss guaranteed brawls that comes around every so often, with the probable distinction being that it's considered an absolute blowout by the layers. Golovkin's as short as a 1/20 (-2000) favourite with some US books (somewhere in the 1/14, 1/16 range seems to be where the median has settled, particularly with European books), which puts Lemieux, statistically, in the same kind of realm that Murray, Macklin and co. occupied - which is to say that they share a single-figure percentage when it comes to their perceived probability of actually winning.
For all the hype, then - and the somewhat testing-the-water PPV status of this contest - in terms of numbers, David Lemieux isn't perceived any more likely to win than, say, Curtis Stevens was. With that in mind, and when drawing those parallels, is Lemieux really the best opponent Golovkin's faced - or, once the unification factor and TV attention have been added into the equation - perhaps simply the least worst?
That's perhaps a little harsh on the Canadian, who's been impressive throughout his rebuilding process ever since two back-to-back defeats looked to have completely derailed what was once looking like an unstoppable rise to the upper echelons of the division.
What started off as an undeniably softly-softly approach - swatting away a motley crew of challengers at his home from home, the Bell Center - quickly gathered momentum, and exciting wins over Fernando Guerrero (Lemieux was a -500 favourite) and Gabriel Rosado (Lemieux -225), a victim shared with Golovkin, finally put Lemieux back in the title picture. A four-knockdown win over Hassan N'Dam (Lemieux -175) earned the Montreal man the vacant IBF strap. Needless to say, the role of rank betting outsider is a new one for Lemieux, and while he can still be backed at a general price of around 8/1 (+800) in Europe, it's the 10/1 (+1000) and above quotes that are more widely available with the likes of 5Dimes and Westgate.
One thing that nearly everybody seems to agree on, though, is the fact that this won't go the full twelve rounds. While that's not particularly surprising for a bout which the layers have chalked up as a mismatch, it does mean we have to venture into the side markets for other ways for Golovkin backers to get their man on side.
Inevitably, Golovkin is also a sizeable favourite to rack up a 31st stoppage in 34 professional fights. It's a general -450 that he puts away Lemieux inside the distance, with British bookie Stan James going as short as -900. A Golovkin decision on the cards can be backed at +700 with the same firm, an outcome that hasn't happened once in the past seven years (opponent Amar Amari was last seen in a ring in 2009). It's a round +1000 that Lemieux scores a KO/TKO of his own, with quotes of +2500 to +3300 being thrown around that he beats Golovkin on the cards. Given the Kazakh's advantages in nearly every area - apart from, perhaps, one-punch power - it's not likely they'll see much interest.
For those confident of a slugfest, there are a few smaller markets that might be of some appeal. A knockdown in the first round by either man can be backed at +1000. It's +1400 that Golovkin closes his Big Drama Show in the first 60 seconds, with +10000 on offer for Lemieux to achieve the same. Both fighters to be knocked down at any point in the bout is +800, with -600 for Lemieux to hit the canvas and +450 that Golovkin touches down for the first time in his career.
It's even money that there'll be more than 6.5 rounds (-125 that we see less), something seen in 3 of Golovkin's last 6 outings, and in 4/6 of Lemieux's. Golovkin to win anywhere in the first half of the fight is +110 with Irish firm Paddy Power which, given the style that Lemieux (+1600 to do the same) will present to him, has some appeal.
The draw can be backed as high as 40/1 - but it feels highly likely that judges Glenn Feldman, Julie Lederman and Steve Weisfeld will be required to be little more than fortunate beneficiaries of ringside seats in a packed Madison Square Garden. It's an understandably short -700 that the fight doesn't hear the final bell, with +475 that it goes all the way.
On the undercard...
Roman Gonzalez (-1000) vs. Brian Viloria (1150)
Tureano Johnson (-1000) vs. Eamonn O'Kane (+600)
Luis Ortiz (-3300) vs. Matias Vidondo (+1400)
Koki Kameda (-700) vs. Kohei Kono (+450)
Andrzej Fonfara (-187) vs. Nathan Cleverly (+220)
Sean Monaghan (-600) vs. Don George (+500)