Las Vegas Gamblers Are Betting the Mayweather/Pacquaio Match Will Be a Draw
Over a thousand gamblers have wagered the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao boxing match is a draw. That presents the Las Vegas sportsbooks with a dilemma in how the wagers have been taken, though most bookmakers believe the betting will self-adjust by the time of the fight.
Jay Rood, VP of MGM’s sportsbook, says the betting will right itself by the time of the opening bell. Rood said, “That will minimize as we get closer, but right now it’s not good–our worst-case scenario.”
Types of Wagers on Each Fighter
The whales and high-rollers are betting on Floyd Mayweather, while the mass market gamblers are betting on Manny Pacquaio. Pacquaio is more of a fan-friendly boxer, while Mayweather is a favorite among those who look at the bottom line of past fights.
Art Manteris, VIP of Race & Sports at the Station Casinos, spoke to ESPN Chalk about the imbalance in betting so far.
Manteris said, “The past week we have finally seen some significant favorite money. The frequency of wagers on Pacquiao is still very one-sided. The big bets, however, are now trending on Mayweather. Some very sharp players have already unloaded on Mayweather. Some are waiting for expected downward price movement fight weekend.”
Why Bet on a Draw?
It is interesting that so many gamblers are wagering on a draw. People might think they expect a close, hard-fought match. That’s part of it, but Mayweather has 0 losses and Pacquaio has 5. Furthermore, draws are not that common in boxing, so the odds on a draw opened on some sportsbooks at 26-to-1. Those odds have been bet down to the 8-to-1 range–a stark difference.
Even if the Mayweather/Pacquiao bout on May 2 ends in a draw, the sportsbooks are likely to look at that as a positive. A draw would almost certainly set-up an ever more lucrative rematch, at which the sportsbooks could have a bigger windfall.
Betting on a Rematch
The rematch angle appears to be what most gamblers are banking on. The Mayweather/Pacquiao match may or may not be the “Biggest Fight of the Century” or the biggest fight in the history of boxing, but it certainly is the biggest fight of this generation and it’s going to be the most lucrative fight ever. Between gate receipts, HBO/Showtime pay-per-view broadcasts, and sponsorships, the match is expected to generate $300 to $400 million in revenues.
Therefore, the cynical view is there is a big incentive to have a controversial decision and an even more lucrative rematch. By that logic, the ones putting on the show would have incentive to spark enough controversy to do the whole thing over again, either in September 2015 or May 2016, when Mayweather and Pacquiao fights tend to happen in recent years.
That overlooks one big obstacle: the egos of the boxers.
Mayweather: Greatest of All Time?
Most importantly, Floyd Mayweather is chasing history. He wants to be considered “The Greatest of All Time”. Mayweather’s clinical boxing style is not meant to win over fans and critics in the traditional way prize fighters gain fans: in bloody center-of-the-ring slugging wars. His speed and defensive style of fighting is the reason for Mayweather’s longevity and unbeaten record, but paradoxically, his skills have turned-off a section of the boxing fandom. Combine Money’s defensive fighting style with his sometimes prickly public image and a lot of boxing fans hate the guy.
Mayweather fans call the critics “haters”, but they represent an important section of the boxing community. They have been vocal in insinuating that Floyd Mayweather cherry-picks opponents. While his list of opponents is impressive on paper, the critics point out that fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Shane Mosely, and even Manny Pacquiao. Those who were not were fighters moving up who were overmatches, like Arturo Gatti, or heavy-handed punchers who were too slow to catch Money, such as Canello Alvarez.
Hand-Picked or Just Outclassed?
This overlooks the unbeaten fighters Mayweather has defeated, such as Diego Corrales and Ricky Hatton, and the string of fighters he’s beaten who went on to have years of success, such as Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto. It also overlooks a truth about boxing: that it’s a complex interlocking of careers on the rise and fall, with fighters in all eras battling a complex mix of fighters still in the prime, boxers on the rise, and former champions well past their prime.
Whatever the truth, the perception exists that Floyd Mayweather has carefully selected opponents to avoid the toughest fights, in order to finish his career unbeaten. The charge is he does this for the sake of money, as well as his claim-to-fame as Greatest of All Time. His reputation is built on an unbeaten, spotless record and he knows it. Due to the criticism, if Mayweather finishes his career as anything less than unbeaten and untied, he loses his best claim to be the Greatest Ever.
Pacquaio: Pride Personified
The logic of the draw also overlooks the facts about Manny Pacquiao. Pac-Man is a prideful fighter who, despite having 5 losses in 62 decisions, has built a world following due to his guts, determination, handspeed, and punchout power. Since 2009, Manny Pacquaio has pursued the fight with Mayweather and he wants to prove he can beat the guy.
While pocketing another $100 million or so might be incentive enough for another fight, Pac-Man has all the money he could ever want already. If he didn’t, the fight on May 2 should do the trick. And if he wins, a lucrative rematch would be in the cards, anyway. In that rematch, Pacquaio likely would have more leverage to get a bigger percentage of a huge purse. Pacquaio has every incentive to win.
In the old days, when boxers depended on outside promoters, boxers’ pride might be trumped by the cold-blooded calculations of their business people. Promoters are infamous for their machinations, whether it’s Don King or Pacquaio’s promoter, Bob Arum. But Floyd Mayweather is his own promoter, which is the secret to his financial success.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. controlled the staging of this fight, to a high degree. It happened when he decided it would happen, with assists from Manny Pacquaio (and the famous basketball game meeting), Bob Arum, Al Haymon, and HBO’s Les Moonves. Mayweather does not want a draw; his ego wouldn’t allow it.
Anatomy of a Draw
A draw has to happen the old-fashioned way: with a remarkably close and hard-to-score boxing match, combined with pure luck. The odds of something happening like that are more than 26-to-1, in my mind. It’s madness to bet on a draw at 8-to-1 odds.
Neither Mayweather nor Pacquaio knock out opponents these days, so a decision is likely to be rendered. But styles make fights. Either Pacquaio’s aggression and quick hands are going to allow him to outwork Mayweather, or Mayweather’s superior boxing skills will make Pacquaio look like every other boxer who has fought Floyd.
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