Mayweather-Pacquiao most anticipated since Thrilla in Manila
April 28, 2015 3:01 AM
by Vegas Runner
All of the drama, gamesmanship, and theatrics leading up to the most highly anticipated fight since “The Thrilla in Manila” comes to a head this Saturday night inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (47-0, 26 KO’s) looks to defend his WBA (Super), WBC, and Ring Magazine Welterweight titles against Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KO’s), and capture “The Fighting Pride of the Phillipines” WBO strap.
Rest assured this epic bout that took more than five years to materialize is being fought for a lot more than those world titles. Both men have already acquired a multitude of accolades, conquered numerous weight classes, and reached the pinnacle of their sport.
Therefore this historic battle will be fought for the legacy of both Mayweather and Pacquiao. And though they’ve already secured their spot in Boxing’s Hall of Fame and will forever be remembered as two of the greatest of all time, the combatant who emerges victorious on Saturday will reach a new height.
It will be one in which the loser, barring a rematch coupled with a different outcome, will be incapable of climbing to. Yes, this fight is that significant and colossal…and I believe without a doubt both fighters would agree they will ultimately be remembered more for this bout than any other history making and breaking accomplishment they’ve already achieved.
And for us fans and bettors alike, regardless of whether the fight itself comes close to living up to the hype or not, will forever remember how intoxicating the entire ride has been.
With that said, let’s go ahead and take a look at this historic fight from a Las Vegas bettor’s perspective, by both handicapping and ultimately predicting the outcome.
In past columns I touched on the fact bookmakers initially opened the betting with Mayweather listed as a higher favorite than he currently sits. The reason for this is obvious, Pacquiao supporters quickly backed their fighter and money on the underdog continued to be bet which drove the line down.
In fact, Mayweather went from as high as a -260 to a low of -170, but then last week money on the favorite began reaching the betting window and we’re now seeing Floyd hovering around -210.
Granted, the majority of sports books believe that even with money expected to come in on the favorite as we approach fight night, they’ll still find themselves with much more exposure on Pacquiao. That should come as no surprise since it’s been the case for most Mayweather fights, and it appears to be a risk many sports books are fine with.
So come fight night, we can say with confidence that bookmakers will be hoping for the No. 1 pound for pound fighter on the planet to make it 48-0.
Now if you look at what this betting line reflects as far as probability, it suggests Mayweather has a 68% chance of emerging victorious, with the take-back of +175 on Pacquiao saying his chances are around 36%.
So as a bettor, you simply ask yourself whether either fighter’s likelihood of winning is greater. That is what professional bettors refer to as value. Their goal is simple, seek out and wager on situations which offer value over and over, knowing it makes them a mathematical certainty to beat the book makers and turn a profit long-term.
Easier said than done.
For Pacquiao, he’ll need to be a pressure fighter from start to finish to have any chance at beating Mayweather. More importantly, the 8 division world champion will have to use him being a southpaw as his greatest asset. It’s no secret Mayweather Sr didn’t want his son facing southpaws early on in his career and according to Bob Arum, Jr was vocal about having his former promotor help him avoid them.
The reason is simple, the patented “shoulder roll” employed by Mayweather isn’t as effective as it is against an orthodox fighter. Therefore, the straight left hand of Pacquiao should create problems if he’s able to avoid the straight right from Mayweather.
Also, I expect Mayweather will use his jab to paw at Pacquiao, and use it more as a range finder than to do any damage. Then he’ll most likely attempt to throw his check left hook to keep turning Pacquiao around and pot-shot the smaller man from the outside.
Therefore, Manny will need to utilize a lot of feints to make it difficult to be timed, something Mayweather has proven to be one of the best at. Pacquiao will also have to remain busy the entire 3 minutes of every round, otherwise Floyd will be able to stand his ground in the center of the ring and dictate the tempo.
The bottom line is for Pacquiao to have any real chance he’s going to have to keep Mayweather against the ropes as much as possible, and not chase him around the ring or try to outbox him in the center. If the underdog can move forward at angles and keep Mayweather in range, he has a legitimate shot to outwork the accurate, but very conservative favorite.
In theory, Mayweather has had trouble against opponents with both power and speed, like Zab Judah and Shane Mosley, who both had some success. The difference here will be that it’ll be much more difficult to clinch against Pacquiao since he doesn’t really fight inside.
Instead, Manny uses his footspeed to go in and out as quickly as possible, while being able to throw with power from both hands.
In the end, it’ll come down to which fighter and corner is able to make the better adjustments. The over/under for rounds is currently 11.5 with the “over” a 3 to 1 favorite which means odds makers expect this fight will go the distance.
Finally, it’s difficult to see Mayweather being beaten since nobody’s been able to do so yet. And at -210, the price represents the cheapest he’s ever been offered to bettors by book makers.
As a professional bettor, backing Mayweather appears to be the so called “value” side. But I can’t neglect the fact I’ve definitely witnessed him slowing down over his last few fights, while Pacquiao has looked to have gotten his second wind since losing to Marquez.
So I am going to go ahead and wait for the price to climb back up a little, then step to the window and back the underdog Pacquiao. I see no reason why he won’t be able to both outwork and outland the more efficient Mayweather, which could bank him plenty of rounds with the judges.
Also, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the smaller, but much bigger puncher is able to get Floyd’s respect early, which will in turn also make him even more defensive than he’s been at times...making it more difficult to win rounds.
PICK: PACQUIAO +175
Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @vegasrunner, and at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.