Last Updated: 2017-08-21
The long-awaited fight that was often thought of as a fantasy will be a reality on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Conor McGregor will meet in Mayweather’s element, a boxing ring, with a ton of money on the line. This Superfight has been in the works for a long time, but it is finally coming to fruition, with high ticket prices to be in attendance and high pay-per-view prices that people are undoubtedly going to pay. Mayweather has never lost in his boxing career and McGregor has never been in a sanctioned boxing match, so there is a lot of uncertainty coming into this fight.
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Oddsmakers have projected that this fight will draw a handle similar to the Super Bowl, if not higher. Overshadowed by the main event is the fact that there will be seven other fights on the docket, four of which can be seen on Fox. The main card features four fights, including three title fights, and all of those will be on pay-per-view.
Breaking down a fight like this from a betting standpoint is extremely difficult to do. Mayweather has been a heavy favorite, both in the hypothetical odds when this fight was something of a pipe dream and then in the actual odds when this fight was officially announced. Mayweather’s price tag falls anywhere between the -450 and -500 range, which implies a win probability of about 82 to 83 percent. In all honesty, that price seems really low. Mayweather is a professional boxer. McGregor is a professional mixed martial artist, where he has several different ways to strike his opponent and can also take the fight to the ground. This is a straight-up boxing match, so the guys will be throwing hands only. Not feet. Not knees. Not elbows. Fists. That could be a challenge for McGregor, who is used to a much different fighting environment.
In terms of scouting the fight, there aren’t a whole lot of easy angles to consider. Will McGregor come out fast and try to end the fight early? Will Mayweather take the same technical, patient approach that he has taken in his most recent bouts? Things like this will dictate how things shake out in the prop betting market. Bettors can pick which round the fight will end, how quickly into a round or into the fight it will end, and whether or not it winds up going 12 rounds and to the cards. Right now, the fight won’t go the distance is lined around -250 to -275 at most sportsbooks. Mayweather inside the distance, via knockout or other stoppage, is chalk at -135, so that may be the best way to bet Mayweather at a reduced price because it’s hard to see this fight actually making it through 36 minutes.
That, in and of itself, is another consideration. While boxing and MMA are two entirely different types of fighting, McGregor has only gone 15 minutes in a fight once, back at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen in 2013 against Max Holloway, and he went 25 minutes with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 about a year ago. This fight has the potential to go 36 minutes if all 12 rounds are required. McGregor is going to need to land some early shots to change the dynamics of the fight. Mayweather gets paid win or lose, but he’s certainly not going to put himself in a compromising position early on in the fight. He’s very content with winning it over 12 rounds if need be.
From a conspiracy theory standpoint, these two fighters stand to make somewhere around $175 million combined. The press tour for this fight has generated a lot of buzz. A rematch would be an extremely lucrative thing for both sides. Will that have any impact on how things play out? If Mayweather knocks out McGregor in the first round and there’s a rematch, what will the gate and the pay-per-view purchases look like? If McGregor lands a shot and drops Mayweather, what does that mean for the future? You know there would be a rematch in that instance.
This is one of the most unique betting events we have ever seen. It’s going to draw a significant handle and has a prop betting menu like that of a Super Bowl. But, how you do break down a fight between a guy that is an actual boxer and a guy that isn’t? How do you wager on all of that uncertainty? That’s not to say that Conor McGregor can’t fight or can’t box, but we honestly don’t know if he can box against arguably the best that the sport has ever seen in Mayweather’s weight class.
As far as some betting options that do stand out, certainly paying the price on Mayweather seems to make sense. Mayweather is -165 to knock down McGregor, which also seems like a good bet. McGregor is +400 to knock down Mayweather. With Mayweather’s tactical approach to recent fights, that seems like a stretch, but it will be a bet that people make. One angle I would consider is to bet Mayweather knocks down McGregor in Round 3 (+550 range), Round 4 (+575 range), Round 5 (+500), and Round 6 (+500). If there is a feeling out period, it stands to reason that Mayweather would get more comfortable and find more openings as he sees what McGregor’s approach to the fight will be. He could also be inflicting some more punishment by this point.
Another bet that makes some sense is Mayweather wins by disqualification at +575. It is a bit of a long shot, obviously, but McGregor’s mixed martial arts background could be a problem for him in this fight. He may try to use other body parts in order to get an edge. More often than not, these will just be points deductions, which have been accounted for in the “spread” type bets, with McGregor’s points handicap.
The sweet spot for this fight seems to be around the eighth or ninth round. Will the fight start Round 8 is -125 at 5Dimes Sportsbook, but will the fight start Round 9 is -121 on the ‘No’ side. Factor that into your handicapping in terms of victory by KO and also some of the total aggregate punches landed by each fighter.
Interestingly, over at 5Dimes, the flattest line in terms of juice is Conor McGregor over/under 192.5 punches thrown. Both sides are at -120 there. If this fight should end during the eighth round, as predicted, that puts McGregor around 24 punches per round. Does that seem light? Does that seem like a lot? Remember that they don’t have to land to be thrown. The only line offered on Mayweather is over/under 300 with -210 on the over. It certainly seems like the books expect Mayweather to be more of an aggressor, but I’m not sure that will be the case. I’d look under there, especially in the event that this thing is over early.
One final prop that looks pretty interesting is whether or not the fighters will touch gloves at the start of Round 1. The ‘Yes’ is +160 and the ‘No’ is -210 at 5Dimes. I like to think that they will. There has been a lot of trash talk on the media circus, er, circuit, for this fight, but this is something that both guys have wanted and fight fans have wanted. There has to be some level of respect between these two fighters, with Mayweather appreciating that McGregor agreed to box on his terms and with McGregor going up against the best contemporary boxer of his time. There’s no love lost, but there’s a symbolic element to this that I don’t think the fighters will overlook.
The last word of advice here is that bettors absolutely need to be smart with their bankrolls. Wanting action on such a huge event is definitely understandable, but don’t play this like you’re drunk at the craps table and throwing checks on the exotics in the middle of the table. Make smart investments. Consider all angles of a bet and wager accordingly. The uniqueness of this event and of this fight creates a large amount of uncertainty. Have some fun with it, but don’t go overboard. Shop around for the best odds at all of your available sportsbooks and enjoy the fight.