Over the past few weeks fight fans and bettors alike have been treated to an abundance of exceptional fight cards in both boxing and MMA.
Though I’m sure most of you like myself are in no need of a break, there are not many bouts scheduled for this weekend that’ll attract much attention.
Therefore, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to discuss the most highly anticipated, or at the very least attractive, upcoming bouts in each sport over my next two columns.
We will start off in boxing this week, where for the fourth time since May of 2004, Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KO’s) will step into the ring and face Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO’s).
All three of their previous bouts took place right here in Las Vegas therefore it’s only fitting that this encounter follows suit by having the MGM Grand play host to the fight.
Unlike those prior confrontations, this time around neither fighter will enter the arena with a title belt at stake since it’s being contested at the welterweight limit. Instead, this fourth bout is being promoted as the one to settle the argument, “who is better” once and for all.
Even though Pacquiao emerged victorious in their last two most recent battles after a controversial draw kicked things off, to say each decision was hotly disputed would be an understatement.
Many in boxing entertained the thought that a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was finally going to happen when Pacquiao reluctantly agreed to a 45-55 split of the purse, but few were surprised when that bout was unable to get made.
So it seemed the next obvious choice for the pride of the Philippines was an immediate rematch with Timothy Bradley, who stripped him of his straps in what was surely the most debated decision thus far in 2012.
Pacquiao’s handlers, most notably his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, is reported to believe a Bradley rematch would not be as marketable as a fourth with Marquez. This is why to the marvel of many in boxing including myself, we’ll get to see what should be another replay of their previous fights.
Not surprising, odds makers have installed Pacquiao as a -350 betting favorite with the take-back on Marquez a generous +300. The price reflects a discount of over 50% from the last fight when Pac-Man went off as heavy chalk. Rest assured the price for No. 4 will begin to drop as the fight draws near as fans and casual bettors descend upon the Las Vegas Strip in December.
I’ve touched on the phenomenon that takes place in the boxing betting market which is unlike almost every major sport, where casual fans historically bet the underdog rather than the favorite, ultimately forcing sports books to adjust the price.
In the case of this bout where so many believe Marquez simply has a style that gives Pacquiao problems, we should see even more money get wagered on the dog.
Thus far there does not seem to be all that much excitement mounting, but as HBO’s 24/7 program begins to air, and the promotion begins to heat up, I have very little doubt that this too will be another major fight night in Vegas and plenty of pay-per-view buys will be made.
We’ve already seen the first hint of drama unfold when Marquez requested that the Nevada Athletic Commission not be in charge of appointing the judges. According to Marquez, after being robbed by the judges’ scorecards in each of the three bouts, he would like to see a Mexican, Philippine, and one neutral judge from outside the state to sit ringside on fight night.
It’s obvious Marquez knew prior to issuing his statements on this matter that his request would be undoubtedly denied. So I guess we’ll simply chalk it up to some gamesmanship being played, and more importantly, his wanting to plant the seed in the mind of the judges chosen that the world is watching and a fair playing field is expected.
Finally, I will be breaking down this matchup and sharing my opinion as well as any wager made leading up to the fight taking place.
Next week, we’ll take a look at what is being billed, and deservedly so, as one of the biggest MMA title fights of 2012.
Record at Pregame.com
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].