The promotional drumbeat has echoed far and wide throughout the sporting world for Floyd Mayweather’s latest foray into the ring. He takes on undefeated 23-year-old Mexican superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night.
The fight will be contested at a catch weight of 152 pounds - two pounds below the junior middleweight limit, the division in which Alvarez holds two world titles. Mayweather, 36, will be fighting above the welterweight limit for the third time in a storied, 44-fight career. This is a classic matchup of old vs. young, big vs. small and defense-first tactician vs. steady offensive force.
In preparation for the promotion titled “The One,” here are the three best bets:
Decisions, decisions, decisions
Mayweather is a -280 favorite (Alvarez is +220), although the better play is Mayweather by decision at -160.
I’ll usually recommend taking the moneyline to hedge against a stunning knockout or disqualification. Mayweather, though, has knocked out only two of his past nine opponents, with both of those knockouts coming against opponents (Ricky Hatton and Victor Ortiz) who had recently moved up to welterweight from junior welterweight.
Alvarez is a stout 154-pounder with the frame of a middleweight. A Mayweather KO is highly unlikely, so if you’re putting your money on “Money,” take him by decision.
“Yes, if I had to make a play on Mayweather, I think win by decision is the best play,” Mike Perry of Sportsbook.com told Covers.com. “You’re laying -160 and Mayweather rarely goes for the quick win.”
Considering the late money generally pours in on the underdog (and historically has gone against Mayweather), waiting until Saturday to wager on Mayweather might be the best play.
Granted, it’s anticlimactic to hope for a draw, but the odds (25-1, down from 28-1 Wednesday) are too enticing to pass up.
Even if Mayweather wins in the eyes of the public, he’ll still need to convince two of the three judges. One of the judges assigned to Saturday’s fight, C.J. Ross, was one of the two blind mice that gifted Timothy Bradley with an egregious split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao last year.
A draw, controversial or otherwise, sets up a megabucks rematch. And a rematch benefits everybody - from the fighters to the casinos that rake it in on a big fight weekend. Even if you have Mayweather by decision, a small hedge bet on the draw is advisable.
"People are betting the draw at prices as low as 18-to-1,” boxing oddsmaker Joey Oddessa told Covers.com. “I think it’s more of a reflection of their lack of faith in the competence of the judges than the bout itself. I'd be surprised if Canelo wins four rounds total or any two rounds after round six."
Mayweather is a 9.5-point favorite (-130, up from -115 Wednesday), meaning if the fight goes to the scorecards, he’d have to be ahead by a combined 10 points on the three judges’ scorecards.
If Mayweather wins an eight rounds-to-four-type decision, 116-112 across the board, you win the bet. In a close fight, all it takes is one inept judge with a scorecard of 118-110 or 119-109 to shift the prop in your favor. A knockout, TKO or DQ would also get the job done.
Betting the judges is a treacherous proposition, but Mayweather should win handily enough to make it worth your while.