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What I Look for When Betting on Boxing Matches

| July 30, 2019 8:41 am PDT
How to Bet on Boxing Matches

Thinking of betting on boxing? It’s not as easy as it looks, my friend.

Even the most astute and experienced experts and pundits find it hard getting it right all the time. Separating two warriors of similar attributes and skillsets can often leave gamblers a little stuck in the mud.

Still, there are some that just cannot get enough of the excitement and thrills that come with a wager on the fights. The world’s most popular combat sport is also one that attracts the keen eyes of gamblers from Naples to Nevada. 

Why? Well, you could say that the sport — and its early antecedents that were formed all the way back in ancient Greece — grips us like no other.

If you love boxing, it is hard not to feel a rush at the announcement of a big fight. As a lover of betting on boxing, you immediately try your best to work out who will win.

Heck, I know I do. Then again, I’ve watched so much of the “sweet science” over the years it’s a miracle that I haven’t developed diabetes. Or lost my teeth.

Okay, you can’t lose your teeth watching reruns of “Sugar” Ray Leonard, thankfully. Still, it creates a funny mental image. 

What isn’t so funny is that you can lose a lot of money when betting on boxing.

If you don’t understand what to look out for — and the most important things that can influence a fight — you might as well stand in a field and bet on which cow is going to take a dump first. 

Betting on Boxing Matches

As one of the greatest rappers of all time said, “Mo money, mo problems.”

Poetic, but try telling that to a guy who has just lost his whole bankroll on a fight. Rather than making the effort to closely assess each fighter’s chances, this type of guy simply goes with the boxer that is more popular and favored by pundits.

Let me tell you, money cannot buy you happiness, but it will allow you to rent it. Losing cash on a bout when you could have won stings, so it can often — and quite literally — pay to do your homework.

This is YOUR MONEY we are talking about. Sure, if no cash is involved, feel free to pick as many fighters to win bouts as you wish. 

But with money involved, you need to be careful. This is a mistake that many gamblers make. Alongside always betting the favorite or the fighter with the higher fanbase, another common mistake is to bet with the heart.

Sure, it can be very tempting to back a Mexican fighter on Cinco de Mayo or the American over the Russian, but this is betting with your heart, my friend. 

That’s never a good idea.

When assessing boxing matches, I always pay close attention to what my heart says. Then, I lock it up in quarantine until I have made my choice. 

Here’s some free advice — betting smart is the way forward. Here are a few other tips to help you do just that. 

Just keep them to yourself, all right?

What Does Each Fighter Bring to the Table?

If you think that you have worn your favorite sweater out with how much you show it off, imagine how I feel uttering these next words…

Styles make fights.

Yes, this boxing axiom is thrown around with about the same effort as confetti is at your aunt’s third wedding. The reason being is that is true.

It is undeniable that one style can negate another. Sometimes, the same style — in particular, a counterpunching or ultra-defensive approach — can cancel out the efforts of the two fighters in the ring, leading to a boring fight.

As a boxing fan, boring fights suck. As someone who bets on boxing and places emphasis on winning their bets, the spectacle should be of minor importance. 

What is of major importance is that you understand how styles work. This matters tenfold when you are betting on how a fight will end or at what stage in the bout.

If there are two humongous heavyweights with the power of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa but with engines smaller than a gnat’s butt, do you think it’s going to go all the way to the 12th round?

On the flipside, betting on a knockout between two flyweights with punches so soft that you could sleep on them — rather than getting slept by them — makes little sense.

Consider both fighters’ styles and how they can negate the other’s. Is one fighter a volume puncher with a snappy jab, great distance management, and sound defense? Is the other a slow, plodding power-puncher that relies on cutting the ring off?

Think about it.

Building a Profile of a Fighter

In boxing, records can only tell half the tale.

You would be surprised at how many boxers have records that look stellar but don’t hold up when examined closely. That 30-0 wrecking ball that you think will steamroll an opponent with a couple of losses might have a heavily padded record.

What I mean by a padded record is one that features little to no wins over high-quality opposition. These types of fighters are carefully managed by promoters, who avoid putting them in with true talent too soon.

This leads us to form, which is always an important indicator of a fighter’s chances of winning a bout, but it can be deceiving.

This fighter might have 10 wins with 10 KOs. As such, you might be tempted to put the wife and kids on them knocking out their next opponent, too. However, if their next opponent is a serious step up in opposition, they could be exposed and found out. 

One thing I strongly recommend any budding boxing betting expert to do is to build the profile of a fighter.

Think about things such as these.

  • Their style
  • The quality of their previous opponents
  • How “true” their record is when compared to their opponent
  • The hype surrounding them
  • Their key strengths and obvious weaknesses
  • Their “value” as a money-making star
  • Their experience against similar opponents

From here, you can begin to understand the risk associated with backing them to win a fight. You can also figure out if there is value in their odds. 

The Risk/Reward Ratio for Each Camp

This is one of the most overlooked aspects when betting on boxing matches.

I like to refer to it as the risk/reward ratio, but this is probably not a term you will hear a lot. In fact, the risk/reward ratio is a term that you will mostly find in the lexicon of financial traders and investors.

Now, what does finances or investment have to do with boxers?


Boxing is a multi-billion-dollar sport. The best fighters on the planet generate unimaginable amounts of money for the promoters, managers, and teams that they are associated with. 

In the modern age, protecting a fighter means keeping them in the sphere of making money. Frequent money. That is, after all, the main aim for the guys that have a financial interest in a boxer, which includes the broadcasters and sponsors that pay big sums to be associated with them.

These days, big fights between two guys very evenly matched are few and far between. The reason for this is that promoters don’t want to run the risk of their fighter losing. As annoying as it is, once a fighter takes a loss, their stock plummets, massively.

A boxer’s legacy can also be majorly affected by losing a fight. As such, you need to consider all of the above when betting on fights. If the star is in with a lesser-known fighter with a good record, the chances are that the promoters see it as a comfortable win.

Of course, this doesn’t always work out that way.

Replacement Opponents

Anthony Joshua was a 25-1 favorite to beat Andy Ruiz Jr., a replacement opponent for Jarrell Miller.

While Ruiz just looked incredible that night, an objective boxing analyst has to consider a few things in the post-fight breakdown of that bout. One of these things is that Ruiz was a stand-in for Miller.

Now, I know you might feel that Ruiz’s style was just all wrong for the Brit. I get that. I agree with that sentiment. But at the same time, if Joshua had the same amount of time preparing for Ruiz that he would have had with Miller, we could have seen a different result.

Well, at least a less convincing win for Joshua.

Many fighters at the top level start preparing for their opponents before the fight has even reached the purse bid stages. In other words, their promoters let them know who they are going to pick as their next opponent.

If a fighter has not dedicated their entire camp to fighting a boxer of a particular style, they could potentially get caught out. Sure, Ruiz was chosen as he was the closest available opponent to Miller in terms of size and style.

At least that’s what Joshua’s camp seemed to believe.

I would always be very careful when betting on a fight featuring a replacement opponent. At championship level, it doesn’t tend to happen that often, sure, but it is not as rare as you think at other levels.

Miscellaneous Factors

  • Has the fighter that you are betting on ever fought abroad?
  • Have they recently split with their long-time trainer?
  • Are they coming off their first loss?
  • Have they recently been knocked out?
  • Have they separated with their partners?
  • Have they recently moved up/down in weight class?
  • Is there a particular style they struggle with?
  • Are they fighting their first top-class southpaw?
  • Have they been partying a little too much?

So many questions, eh? 

Probably. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are serious about trying to get it right each time, you need to be on top of everything that is going on with a fighter. You would be surprised at how many boxers’ performances are seriously affected by external factors.

Now, not all of us have proximity or easy access to fighters to ask such questions. That is simply beyond reality. But what most of us can do is stay on top of these kinds of things by closely monitoring a boxer in the run-up to a fight. 

Keep on top of boxing news media. Read and listen to as much news on a fighter as you can before the big night.

Judges and “Hometown Decisions”

Hometown decisions in boxing are no conspiracy theory.

Well, at least not all of them.

We have seen some crazy results over the years in this sport. It is not just pro boxing, either, as amateur boxing has turned up some legendary stinkers, too. 

Perhaps the most famous case of downright robbery occurred at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, before the great Roy Jones Jr. turned professional. 

Jones, in the gold medal fight, outpunched Park Si-Hun, the hometown fighter, 86 to 32. Jones’ opponent was forced to take two standing eight counts and received two warnings. NBC’s Count-A-Punch recorder had the three rounds in Jones’ favor at 20-3, 30-15 and 36-14.

At the end of the bout, the referee raised Jones’ arm before shaking his head at his own mistake. The judges awarded the fight to the Korean, much to the bafflement of spectators around the world. 

This is one example of how hometown decisions can affect a boxer.

It is incredibly important to study where a fight is before you back any boxer. Quite often, a tight decision — or even a very, very blatant one — can go to the fighter that is from that city, country, or even continent. 

If you expect a fighter competing in that country for the first time to be involved in a tight fight, consider your bets. If it goes all the way, you might find yourself pulling your hair out.

Where Is the Value?

To close this piece out, I think it’s important to highlight value betting.

As mentioned earlier, betting with your heart is never a good idea. It might make things more interesting to bet on the guy/girl you want to win, but it goes against everything that we want to do as smart gamblers.

What you want to happen — or what you think will happen — is often the mindset you want to abandon. Instead, you should think about how backing either fighter helps your long-term gains.

Value underpins everything when betting on boxing. We work it out by looking at the odds.

It works like this. The fighter in the blue corner might have very low odds compared to their chances of winning. The fighter in the red corner might have considerably higher odds when compared to their chance of winning.

The blue corner represents low/no value while the red corner represents good/high value. 

Once you have taken in all of the information that we have covered — weighing up everything from a fighter’s profile to hometown decisions — work out the value and go from there.

If there is no value to be had, you should consider not betting on that fighter at all. 

If you need a little more information regarding finding value in betting odds, I have your back. Check out our guide to value betting and then think about how to thank me later.

Final Words

Boxing and excitement go hand in hand. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself into a frenzy, wind-milling your way to losing bets.

Sure, the word “heart” is one you will hear a lot in boxing, but so is “defense.” The first rule of boxing is to “protect yourself at all times,” and you can only do this when you bet smart. 

By following the rules above, I am certain you will take your boxing betting game up a few levels. Just remember that these are guidelines and are not guaranteed to win you money on every single prediction you make.

For every winning bet on Deontay Wilder to beat Dominic Breazeale, there were countless losing ones on Mike Tyson to beat “Buster” Douglas. 

Just like fights, you can’t win ’em all. However, you can do your best to make sure you don’t lose any more than you have to.

One final piece of advice – which applies to betting on all sports – is to make that sure you only ever place your wagers with reputable betting sites.

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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