If there is one thing I’ve learned in all my years in the fight game as a recreational fighter, fan, bettor, and currently writer, it’s that trying to use the “common opponent” theory to predict the outcome of a bout doesn’t work.
Simply put, the over used cliché that “styles make fights” is without a doubt warranted in this on-going argument.
Some believe that if Fighter A beats Fighter B, and then Fighter B beats Fighter C…it’s a forgone conclusion that when A meets C, the winner will obviously be Fighter A. Well, I’m here to tell you this theory does not hold water when attempting to project how a bout will unfold, let alone how it will end.
This coming Saturday night, Barclays Center in Brooklyn is the venue that hosts the above situation as the current WBA (Super), WBC, and Ring Magazine Light Welterweight Titlist Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KO’s) looks to defend his straps for a third time against former Undisputed World Welterweight Champion and five time Junior and Welterweight belt holder, Zab Judah (42-7, 29 KO’s).
Bookmakers opened the champion as the -550 betting favorite, with the take-back on Judah at +450. Currently the line has been bet up to as high as -600, making it appear as if the outcome is simply a forgone conclusion, which is ironic since the “common opponent” theory mentioned at the top of this column reflects the same.
Rest assured with the bout taking place in Brooklyn, a New York borough Judah still calls home though he resides in Las Vegas, money should start to come in on the underdog. That will ultimately force an adjustment to the price.
The way this bout breaks down is no mystery. Garcia will look to overpower Judah and use what many believe to be his greatest advantage in this fight, his youth. On the flip side of that coin, the much more experienced Judah will look to outbox the champion and outthink him in an attempt to catch Garcia in one of his set traps.
Both men come into this bout with plenty of confidence and momentum. The challenger has won 8 of his last 10 bouts, with his two losses coming against Joshua Clottey and Amir Khan. The champion enters the ring having disposed of Erik Morales twice and the same Khan, over the last 14 months.
Stylistically Judah has never been outclassed even versus a who’s-who of former and current world titlists. He comes from a family of fighters that consisted of 11 siblings, with five who boxed, and a father that’s a 7th degree black belt.
Judah turned pro after winning 110 out of 115 amateur bouts, in 1996, at the young age of 18 when he beat Michael Johnson via a second round KO in Miami.
The challenger is an extremely talented and efficient boxer who fights from the southpaw stance. Even at 35, Judah possesses amazing speed and accuracy. Judah’s power has always been an asset as reflected by a 69% knockout percentage in his 42 wins. Even against Garcia, he will not be the lesser power puncher by any means.
In fact against Lucan Matthysse, who many would agree to be the bigger puncher at 140 lbs., Judah’s power was evident and one of the main factors for his victory.
For Garcia, he’ll be wise to be much more patient than he was against Khan, who was clearly getting the best of the current champion prior to getting caught flush. Judah is much better defensively that Khan, and won’t be as easy to hit, so if Garcia gets reckless, the more experienced challenger will capitalize for certain.
Instead Garcia needs to take his time and not look to turn the fight into a brawl or test of chins. Rather, his best approach would be to use his jab and then throw combinations to try and slow Judah down and negate his edge in hand speed.
If Garcia is to successfully defend his crown, then it’ll be the result of forcing Judah to fight while backing up, because if the challenger comes forward, his boxing pedigree and slickness may overwhelm the less experienced champion.
Many would argue that Judah doesn’t want to get into a brawl with Garcia, and should try to out-box, out-land, and out-point him on the judges’ scorecards. Personally I disagree and believe that a physical fight is exactly what Judah wants.
The betting line reflects that to make money on Garcia, one would have to conclude that he would beat Judah 9 out of 10 times they faced off. The break-even winning percentage for a -600 favorite is 85.7%.
For there to be value on the challenger, a bettor would need to determine that Judah would win 2 out of 10 clashes with Garcia as the break-even winning percentage on a +500 underdog is only 16.7%. Obviously the difference in those figures takes the vig or sports book’s hold into account.
I like to refer to myself as a “value hunter” who isn’t afraid to sprinkle a little something on the money-line when believing to be getting my money down when having the best of it. Stylistically this bout can be advantageous towards Judah if he’s able to do in the ring, what it appears on paper will give him an excellent chance to secure his sixth world title. Go with the home team, Saturday.
Pick: Zab Judah +500.
Bonus pick: UFC 159 – Michael Bisping-165
MMA/boxing record: 101-51 (66%)
Record last 3 years: 35-13 (73%)
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].