It’s a weekend that rather neatly sums up what it is to be a boxing fan in 2015. At the top of the bill is the best fighter of this generation, a supremely-gifted technician taking on what we are led to believe will be his curtain call outing. In addition to this, no fewer than four full world title shots are scheduled, from light-heavyweight right down to super-featherweight.
That old adage about quality being preferable to quantity was never really applicable to our sport and, while busy, this latest slate is - for the most part, at least - a dubious batch of appalling mismatches and preordained processions of varying degrees. Still, let us pick through the scraps.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Andre Berto
Clearly, this is not a fight that the world was demanding. Berto has in no way fought his way into a position to be taken seriously as any kind of credible threat. There’s a huge gulf in talent between the two men. You know all of this already.
Mayweather opened as the 1/80 (-8000) betting favourite to win this fight, sold as the latest of a remarkable undefeated career, and the one that draws him level with Rocky Marciano’s famous 49-0. That leaves Berto in the unenviable position of being the huge 16/1 (+1600) underdog, if, indeed, being in a position to earn a guaranteed $4m purse can ever be deemed unenviable.
The most damning indictment of the weekend is that Mayweather, now widely priced up at 1/100 (-10000) – although as generous as 1/20 (-2000) can be found – is just one of a clutch of headliners with odds of 1/50 (-5000) or worse to be found on televised cards globally. No more palatable is the fact that, of 27 fights listed on
Back to Mayweather-Berto, and most of those determined to have some kind of financial interest will surely view their punting approach as a question of how Mayweather will win, not whether he will or not. Mayweather is a general 1/2 (-200) to work his way to a decision win (as short as -225 in places), the result of his last six contests. Four of those six have been unanimous verdicts on the scorecards, and that outcome is quoted at -162 by the oddsmakers. In theory, it’s easy to presume that if it goes the distance it will be a clean sweep, but the spectre of CJ Ross looms large too, if the fact that Marcos Maidana scrapping his way to the wrong end of a majority call wasn’t enough of a warning sign for you.
It’s approaching four years since Mayweather last stopped an opponent, and you have to go back nearly four years from that to find a KO win on his ledger. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s odds-against (+175) that he closes the show inside the distance. There’s a case for it, though. Berto is very likely the worst defensive fighter that Floyd has faced in many years, and he’ll be hit, repeatedly.
Make no mistake, if Mayweather really wants to put his foot down and force a stoppage here, he should be comfortably capable of doing so. Fighting on the front foot isn’t, of course, something that we’re used to seeing from Mayweather - at least not since he’s moved up the weight classes - but it’s easy to imagine a referee looking sympathetically at Berto after eight or nine rounds of eating clean counters. The TKO win is +700 - which doesn’t include the KO, priced separately at +240 – and Mayweather anywhere in the second half of the fight is +450. Win or lose, from this viewpoint, either are more appealing than backing a decision win against an overmatched guy at -200.
This is, really, a no-win situation for Mayweather, bank balance aside. If he puts on an emphatic performance and routs Berto, then most will shrug. He’s the 1/100 favourite, well, sure, what else was he meant to do?
Badou Jack vs. George Groves
Jack’s first defence of his WBC super-middleweight title sees him start as the betting outsider. After claiming the belt in the first place as a bigger-than-3/1 underdog against Anthony Dirrell, it’s unlikely the Swede will be too concerned. The layers have Jack as big as a +187 shot (+175 general) to see off the challenge of Londoner Groves, himself making a third tilt at world honours after two unsuccessful knockout defeats at the somewhat unforgiving hands of Carl Froch.
In a betting anecdote that was at least of some interest, Groves told The Ring that he bet on Jack to unseat Dirrell by points at 9/1 +900, and ended up $1,000 (or £1,000, in his terms) better off as a result. Needless to say his goodwill towards Jack ends there.
(Groves is considered just shy of a 1/2 favourite here (-162 best available), and to these eyes, he’s the better fighter by a stretch. The Hammersmith man has pledged that Jack won’t see the final bell, and it’s +150 that he’s as good as his word. It’s +275 that Groves makes it two decision wins from his last three, with the champion priced at +400 and +500 for the decision and stoppage respectively.
Peter Quillin vs. Michael Zerafa
On paper, this is the single worst of the PBC mismatches to date, and there’s really no justification for Quillin, a talented boxer in his prime, being matched against a guy listed at #88 in BoxRec’s middleweight rankings (Quillin is #3).
This is, frankly, a sham, and for it take place under a banner telling us that these are ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ is nonsensical. The other PBC card this weekend was headlined by a 1/50 favourite (Adonis Stevenson). So there’s that.
Quillin is the 1/200 (-20000) favourite, with a small selection of bookies hoping to reel you in with their 1/100 (-10000) quotes. Zerafa is 25/1 (+2500) to pull off what would a rather large upset, which is bigger than the price of the draw in most fights.
Roman Martinez (-225) vs. Orlando Salido (+175)
Vanes Martirosyan (-350) vs. Ishe Smith (+333)
Jhonny Gonzalez (-1200) vs. Jonathan Oquendo (+1000)
Ashley Theophane (-450) vs. Steve Upsher Chambers (+333)
Cornelius Bundrage (+1000) vs. Jermall Charlo (-900)
Anthony Joshua (-5000) vs. Gary Cornish (+1600)
Dillian Whyte (-3300) vs. Brian Minto (+1600)
Dave Ryan (-150) vs. John Wayne Hibbert (+137)