For the past three weeks there has been a buzz around Las Vegas never quite seen before.
It’s all surrounding the hoopla of “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a fight most of us never thought we’d see after continuous stalled negotiations.
But it’s finally going to happen Saturday night at the MGM Grand
Garden Arena and if you want to catch a glimpse of Las Vegas at its absolute best, it’s worth taking a stroll down the Strip on Friday and Saturday and absorb all the energy.
Because this is such a major event, the thousands that have flocked to town whether going to the fight or not want to show some reverence for the occasion and put their best suits and dresses on. It’s all class and style.
To see and be seen, and all the big name celebrities will be in full force rubbing elbows with everyone else at the table games, bars and clubs. It will look like a scene from the old Rat Pack days and Oceans 11 when everyone dressed for success on their trip to Vegas rather than the normal attire we see weekly with flip-flops and shorts being now accepted as appropriate evening attire.
We’ve had some of the classic bouts in boxing history in Las Vegas involving Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns or Marvin Hagler, and those fights happened regularly in the 1980’s. Then there was the Mike Tyson era where everyone knew the fight was going to be over quick, but the fascination with his brute power all made us want to see how fast he could dispose of his opponent.
You could pick the biggest fight in Las Vegas prior to Saturday’s Mayweather/Pacquiao and the only reason it doesn’t rate as big as this one is because of this long wait. People say that boxing is dead, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We all love boxing, and we all want to see this match. The only problem with boxing is getting these promoters and organizations to give us good fights. We don’t have the luxury of being able to see Leonard-Hearns and then Hearns-Hagler in succession like the old days. The talent pool just isn’t there like it used to be.
We’ve waited and been patient for almost a decade for this fight to happen, and that anticipation is finally being rewarded which will make it the biggest fight of all-time. It should set records for pay-per-view buys and it should also set records for money handled in Nevada, even though no such records are kept by Nevada.
The sports books all keep their own records and MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood said last week that it was already his fourth largest handled fight and that’s with a week still to go when up to 80 percent of the overall wagering will be made.
The consensus number around town has Mayweather -200 and several books have already gone on a little roller coaster ride with the number on early action. MGM Resorts opened Mayweather -240 when the fight was announced, while others like the South Point opened it weeks earlier at -300.
Pacquiao money flooded most books early on to the point where MGM books dropped to as low as -170 before finally seeing Mayweather money. Over the past week, Mayweather money has been showing, but not to the point where they’ll be rooting for Pacquiao. It’s just that now the risk on Pacquiao isn’t as pronounced.
Rood estimates that $60-80 million will be wagered in Nevada for the fight, and because his 10 sports books are all lined up across the Strip, including the host property at the MGM Grand, he should be expected to write at least half the overall action.
While every book will again be rooting for Mayweather like always because bettors love getting plus-money in any fight whether they have a legitimate shot or not, their biggest risk is shaping up to be a “Draw” occurring. Once at 20-1 within the five way knockout/decision/draw index, now it’s 8-1.
The logic behind most taking the draw is that they believe it will be a close fight and with a fight of such magnitude, a second and third saga would be perfect for a hoped upon trilogy. I don’t think it will happen, but you never know.
Selection: I will be waiting until Friday to wager just to see how low of a price I can get on Mayweather. When’s the last time you’ve been able to bet on the best pound-for-pound boxer of all-time at odds of -200 or lower? How about never.
That’s what’s so crazy about the betting action. Mayweather is 47-0 and has the lowest price ever on him and he’s facing a guy who lost twice in 2012, one of which was getting knocked out by Juan Manual Marquez, who Maywether easily disposed of in 2009.
If this were 2011, before seeing Pacquaio at his weakest, I might feel differently and say Mayweather has never faced such a tough opponent, and that still may be the case. But until actually seeing Mayweather have some difficulties, I’m going to ride him.
However, I’m going to wait to bet because I know the number will drop. Pacquiao arrived in town on Monday and all his Filipino followers will soon arrive as well and they come stacked with cash and fire with total confidence in their man.
That money will find its way into several books and will force a downward move on the price. Then we also have Cinco de Mayo, where thousands of people from Mexico party in Las Vegas loaded with cash, and their trend over the years has been to bet the underdog or whoever is fighting Mayweather.
The last three Cinco de Mayo’s in Las Vegas have seen Mayweather take down Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero, and Marcos Maidana.
It’s a safe bet to say the sports books have won more money on Mayweather than any other fighter in history just because people like to bet underdogs and don’t want to lay -800 or -950 with Mayweather.
They keep losing with that strategy and keep coming back with more cash doing the same thing on each visit. I’ll take the value with Mayweather hoping I can lay -160 somewhere on Friday and will feel very comfortable being on the side the books need.
Avoid this prop: There are more than enough props to choose from at your favorite sports book that give you plenty of opportunities to stay away from the “Pick the Knockout Round” prop.
This is the prop that gives you 24 options to pick the knockout round with 50-to-1 odds for Pacquaio to win by KO in the 2nd or Mayweather 28-to-1 to win by knockout in 11th. Even though the title insinuates there will be a knockout, if the fight ends in a decision all bettors lose.
It’s almost like a carnie game. The books give you 24 options, but not the option that is most likely to occur – a decision. Mayweather’s past five fights have all been decisions and so have Pacquiao’s last three.
This has been one of those props that rakes in the cash for the books, but it really isn’t fair for the bettor. So get involved with either fighter to win, bet the bout to go OVER a certain amount of rounds and even take a shot with the 5-way prop that gives a choice for every possible scenario, but stay away from this one. You’ll most likely just be giving cash away in this “three-card monte” prop.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].