The fight of the century. #MayPac. The WBC's excruciatingly-tagged ‘Fight for Eternity'. Whichever way you slice it, Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao is a true crossover sporting blockbuster, a genuine, generation-defining, classic face vs. heel event that puts boxing firmly back in the limelight, if only for one weekend.
Mayweather-Pacquiao is, too, the biggest betting event the sport has seen. This is a truly global fight and the money being wagered on either side of the Atlantic and beyond will break records as comfortably as both the PPV and gate revenue figures will be obliterated. There's not much to be said on this fight that hasn't already been said, but here, for now, is a special bumper edition of the Bad Left Hook Betting Preview.
TO WIN THE FIGHT
You don't need to read this sentence to know that Floyd Mayweather is - as he always is - the betting favorite to win this bout. Slightly more noteworthy is the fact that the weight of public money - the smaller wagers placed by the more casual observers here, such is the mainstream exposure of this fight - is all going on Manny Pacquiao.
That, really, has been the story at the bookmakers since Mayweather confirmed the fight was signed back in late February. On February 20, there was nothing more attractive available on the pound-for-pound number one than a general 1/3 (-300). By the next day, however, more firms had become involved, each with a layer keen to proffer a figure of their own. With more competition, it wasn't long before we saw Mayweather hit -225 (or 4/9 fractionally). In the two months since- although it held for a while - as the hype around the fight began to build, and the money started coming in, so began the movement in prices. The general 1/3 became a general 2/5 (-250), and still the Mayweather price carried on creeping.
By the beginning of April, it was the -225 that was the general price, and in the weeks that followed, the Mayweather price duly reached the -200 mark - more a psychological juncture than anything else for bettors, but significant in the sense that there was now clear daylight between the price on the Grand Rapids, Michigan man to beat Pacquiao and the biggest price he reached to see off Canelo Alvarez.
Today, at the turn of May, that -200 on the favorite has not only held - it's still going, as the best-available price on Pacquiao continues to tumble. If you're placing a bet on Mayweather now, the absolute worst price you'll be getting is -200 (1/2), but there's anything from -187 (8/15) to -175 (4/7), to -166 (3/5) out there. Remarkably, after starting out as a -275 (11/4) underdog, Manny Pacquiao is now, at the layers' most stingy, a +175 (7/4) shot to hand Mayweather his first professional defeat. Not only is that the shortest price anyone's ever been against him, there's every indication it's a line that gets clipped in further by the opening bell.
For those who struggle to make sense of those numbers - hi! - all of that means that the bookmakers think Manny Pacquiao beats Floyd Mayweather 36 times out of 100, or thereabouts. If you think he wins more than that, you've found yourself a decent bet. You knew that already, right?
METHOD OF VICTORY
There's far from any consensus on this fight, but with only 26 stoppages in 47 fights, and five straight decision wins since a controversial KO of Victor Ortiz in September 2011, logic might dictate that Floyd Mayweather wins this bout on the scorecards, as we're so accustomed to seeing him do. Pacquiao, meanwhile, hasn't scored a stoppage of his own since that 12th-round call over Miguel Cotto, way back in November 2009. Plenty have questioned Pacquiao's killer instinct since then, with not even the six knockdowns scored last time out against Chris Algieri silencing the doubters, given how out of his depth the American clearly was.
Mayweather by decision, then, seems the most likely outcome on paper, and while there's a shade under even-money available (10/11, or -110) for the judges to see it in his favour, this of all fights feels like one where anything could happen. For those looking for a better price, a more specific - but limiting - option would be the Mayweather UD at +150 (6/4). It's worth noting, though, that taking the UD puts you very much at the mercy of the whims of the official, with both the Alvarez fight and the first meeting with Marcos Maidana being ruled as majority calls, despite most believing otherwise, and one anomalous card puts paid to your wager. Further back, the fact that Mayweather emerged the right side of that split against Oscar De La Hoya means punters should tread carefully here.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, has three UDs from his three most recent wins, and six from his last seven, with only a questionable majority verdict against Juan Manuel Marquez (third instalment) bucking that trend. More generally though, when Pacquiao wins on the cards, he wins well, as Algieri, Joshua Clottey, Brandon Rios, Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito will attest. The Filipino is +550 to win by a decision of any kind, and a sizeable 10/1 (+1000) that all three judges agree that he'd bettered Mayweather over the distance.
Should the fight not go the distance (-275), the layers fancy it'll have been Pacquiao who's dictated matters, with +550 (+500 more widely offered) that he becomes not only the first man to defeat Mayweather, but to do so in style. A Mayweather stoppage is viewed as the least likely from the four most likely outcomes, with a considerable +700 available for backers willing to bet he inflicts Pacquiao's fourth career defeat inside the distance.
Want to be more specific? You got it. Such is the raft of markets on this fight that virtually any type of outcome is available to put your money on. Take your pick from a split (+800 Mayweather, +1400 Pacquiao) or majority (+1400 the pair), a disqualification win (+3300 Mayweather, +4000 Pacquiao), retirement from the bout (+4000 the pair), or even for the fight to be stopped on cuts (+1400). A good old-fashioned draw is 17/1 (+1700), which may look a big price to some, but half the price for the same outcome in the majority of other contests. Talk of a conspiracy forcing the draw to trigger a convenient - and even more lucrative - rematch, seems wildly misplaced, but it's a price that no doubt will continue to see support.
The bookies have taken every opportunity to prise away as much public money as possible here, and you can hardly blame them. The sheer range of side, prop, or indeed novelty bets is unprecedented, and boxing - so often an afterthought with many firms, is very much front and center here. It's fun trawling through the multitude of options, but there are some obvious highlights.
· Fancy one of the two protagonists to win inside the opening minute? Name your man and there's 150/1 (+15000) on offer for you should it happen.
· Who'll walk away with the better punch percentage landed? The layers reckon it'll be Mayweather (-800), with Pacquiao a big underdog at +500.
· Will Floyd Mayweather announce his retirement from boxing within 24 hours of the fight finishing? +700 says yes, but given that he's spoke much of bringing down the curtain in September, this shouldn't appeal to anyone.
· Will the fight even go ahead on May 2? +800 is available if you think the whole thing collapses, somehow or some way.
· ...and finally, will Dionisia Pacquiao be seen on TV putting a curse on Floyd Mayweather during the fight? This is actually surprisingly short at +225, but how you justify placing this bet is another matter altogether.