Writing a betting column that focuses predominantly on Gennady Golovkin isn't altogether the easiest of tasks, and here's why.
Since, and including, his HBO debut against Grzegorz Proksa in September 2012, everyone's favourite Kazakh has fought eight times and won eight times. In none of those bouts, neither Golovkin nor his opponent has made as far as the ninth round.
Here's the thing. If you'd started with, for example, a stake of $10, and put it all on a straight Golovkin win, rolling over both your stake and profit to the next fight, and repeated that until the present day, you'd be left sitting on a mighty fortune of approximately... £16.81.
For the patient, more conservative bettors out there, that's a considerable 68% bank growth. For the rest of us, it's merely a stark underlining of just how far clear Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) is of the chasing pack in the middleweight division. Frankly, even the description of a ‘chasing pack' is overstating it somewhat, given there's not exactly a queue forming to face the de facto king at 160lb.
It's Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) who steps up tomorrow night with the seemingly thankless task of attempt to stop the oh-so-cheerful juggernaut, but after Proksa (Golovkin was a -500 favorite), Rosado (-2500), Ishida (-5000), Macklin (-1500), Stevens (-1400), Adama (-5000), Geale (-900), and Rubio (-5000), it's the Brit who, by popular opinion will be the next on the pile of mangled bodies and never-quite-the-same-again careers that Golovkin has chewed his way through at betting odds too prohibitive to ever contemplate backing.
With the stingiest of layers, Golovkin is a -3300 (or 1/33) shot this weekend. At best, you'll find him as a -1200 favorite, and in general he's an industry-wide -1600 or thereabouts. There aren't too many that will be backing against him with anything approaching extreme confidence, spare for, say Murray's own manager.
Martin Murray is perhaps the ‘nearly man' of British boxing at the moment, and there's few better examples of an active boxer whose reputation has been bolstered more by defeat (and a draw) than by the contests he's actually won. Unfancied by most when on the road against both Sergio Martinez (Murray was the +550 dog) and Felix Sturm (as the +500 shot), it was from these fights - a defeat and a draw respectively - that the St Helens man really forged his reputation and put himself forward as a viable contender to Golovkin somewhere down the line.
More concerning for those willing on the shock this weekend is the scarcity of quality that Murray actually has in his win column. In truth, while the Sturm and Martinez performances were highly creditable, they were, ultimately winless. Those aside, Murray's record is worryingly thin, and the claim from Rodney Berman, Golden Gloves promoter, that Murray is "a two-time uncrowned world champion" is surely the best case of "if only my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle" we've heard so far this year.
Controversy aside, let's look at who Murray HAS actually beaten since Martinez and the Buenos Aires hoo-hah.
First, there was an inexplicable eight-round rematch with the 40-year-old Sergey Khomitsky. To give you some idea of Khomitsky's present level, he's a +250 underdog to beat prospect Adam Etches in March.
Murray took to Twitter to announce his next opponent ("for those asking, it's not on TV, but [that's] no wonder with who I'm fighting"), the superbly-confusingly-nicknamed Ishmael Tetteh - ‘the Black Roy Jones Jr' - who'd fought only once outside Africa in a 42-fight career (and lost when he did). Prior to facing Murray last April, the teak-tough Tetteh hadn't strung together two wins in succession since the halcyon days of 2012, when he racked up four straight against a debutant, a guy with a 0-3 record and two guys with 0-5 records.
Next up was Max Bursak (a +380 underdog), who, mercifully, was more qualified, but could well still count a decision over Bryan Vera in 2009 as his best win. Most recently, it was Domenico Spada (the +800 outsider) who was the anointed stay-busy, a man whose five opponents pre-Murray had a combined 95 (NINETY-FIVE) defeats.
While some - if not all - of this was, of course, a clear case of risk-averse matchmaking with the big Golovkin fight in mind, this hardly screams great preparation by the Merseysider's camp, considering the sheer scale of his challenge come Saturday night.
Murray likely won't be intimidated and, surely, doesn't strike any observer as the type likely to hide away from a task, but the ‘he's as hard as they come' rhetoric sounds particularly fatigued in this instance. Stevens, Macklin, Geale, and Rubio were all considered, at worst, scrappy and durable, but from what we've seen so far, just being tough going into a contest with Gennady Golovkin simply isn't going to be enough to get it done.
Golovkin is, inevitably, a lopsided favorite to win inside the distance and there's no better than -600 available that Murray avoids being stopped, with a hefty 22/1 (+2200) on offer for the challenger to pull off what would be the undoubted upset of the year by knocking out the sport's most fearsome KO artist. It's +550 that we go to the judges, with a Golovkin points nod priced at +600, and a Murray decision at a best-priced +2500.
Follow Tom Craze on Twitter @Box_Bet