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The final quarter of the boxing schedule has some massive cards on tap for fight fans before the turn of the New Year. Take a look at the biggest bouts, and their odds, as we head into the winter.
Lucian Bute vs. Glen Johnson (Super middleweight) - November 5
Odds: Bute -1350, Johnson +885
Forget the lopsided odds, this is the toughest test of Bute’s career. Despite a 29-0 mark and eight successful title defenses, he has yet to face top-level competition. At 42, Johnson (51-15-2, 35KOs) is a bit worn, but he is an iron-chinned, come-forward bruiser who will take Bute out of his comfort zone.
Johnson has an excellent chance of stopping Bute’s six-fight KO streak and, at more than 10-to-1, Bute’s a favorite who doesn’t provide bang for the betting buck. A small play on Johnson is the best option.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (144-pound catch weight) – November 12
Odds: Pacquiao -800, Marquez +550
Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) is Pacquiao’s stylistic kryptonite, having limited him to a draw in 2004 and a controversial split-decision win in 2008. But unlike those bouts (fought at 126 and 130 pounds, respectively), they will be fighting near the welterweight limit, where Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38KOs) has defeated top opposition.
In Marquez’s only other welterweight fight, he looked puffy and slow losing a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. At 38, Team Pacquiao views him as a low-risk, highly-lucrative foe. With age and weight on his side, look for the PacMan to score his first KO since 2009. The 10.5-round under prop at -130 is the play.
Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito (Junior middleweight) – December 3
Odds: Cotto -185, Margarito +160
Bad blood is often an obvious marketing ploy designed to sell a fight. Not here. The vitriol on Cotto’s end in palpable, since most people assume Margarito used loaded gloves to TKO him back in 2008.
After being caught red-handed in the locker room prior to his 2009 TKO loss to Shane Mosley (a plaster-like substance was found under his hand wraps), Margarito served a yearlong suspension, won a May 2010 tuneup bout and then in November proceeded to get battered by Pacquiao for 12 rounds.
Margarito is a shot force. At less than 2-to1, Cotto is the Christmas season’s best bargain.
Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko (Bantamweight) – December 3
Odds: Mares -125, Agbeko -105
In August, Mares defeated Agbeko via majority decision in a controversial, low blow-ridden fight that is most notable for the inept refereeing of Russell Mora. Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) got away with upwards of 30 crotch shots, including a blatant cup buster in the 11th round that Mora somehow ruled a knockdown.
The IBF ordered an immediate rematch and the odds reflect what should be a tightly contested fight. But with the bout taking place in Mares’ home state of California, don’t expect Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) to eke out a close decision. Like most jurisdictions, California has had its share of questionable scorecards favoring hometown fighters.
Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch (Super Six Final) – December 17
Odds: Ward -300, Froch +225
This finally spells the end of the seemingly endless Super Six tournament, which has been marred by injuries and fighter withdraws. Despite the tournament’s imperfections, the winner of this fight will establish himself the super middleweight division’s alpha dog.
Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) is the rightful favorite and has an innate ability of adapting to his opponent’s style. Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) is a more rough-and-tumble sort with underrated athleticism. Ward should pull the fight out in the later rounds en route to a unanimous decision win. Don’t be wary of the -300 odds; Ward is a future pound-for-pound king.