A late surge of support for Floyd Mayweather Jr has seen the odds tumble on him beating Conor McGregor in Las Vegas this weekend. Mayweather started out at 1/25 but the betting public wanted to take a chance on McGregor and it forced the bookmakers to push out the odds on Mayweather to balance their risk. At one point earlier this week Mayweather reached 3/10 with Bet365 and various others and that was too attractive to ignore for many punters. The odds have been shortening ever since as the public piles in on Mayweather and Bet365 has gone down from 3/10 (1.33) to 4/17 (1.23), a dramatic shortening. The best price now available on Mayweather is 1/4 at William Hill, Bet Victor and Paddy Power.
McGregor has a strong and loyal following from his legions of UFC fans and they have been staunchly backing him in the build-up to this fight. He has gone all the way in from 19/2 to 4/1, but that is still far more enticing to casual sports fans than the 1/4 available on Mayweather. They want to stake £10 and the prospect of earning £40 rather than £2.50 is far more appealing. Therefore a good 95% of the bets placed on this fight have gone on McGregor.
But the sharp money being wagered right at the death is all going on Mayweather. Although only a comparatively small amount of bets have been placed on him, around 80% of the money has been staked on him – by a few high rollers that see a great opportunity to make a quick profit off their large wagers. That is understandable. Experts believe that 1/4 still represents excellent value on the American. ESPN boxing analyst Max Kellerman said that even at 1/50 “Mayweather would literally be tremendous value”.
The liability for bookmakers lies in a surprise win for McGregor, so they will be praying for a Mayweather victory. Fans have backed the Irishman at huge prices and will make a killing if he wins, so bookmakers are hoping they simply have to pay out a few high rollers and laugh their way to the bank.
So who should you side with, the masses of McGregor fans or the high rollers? Logic would tell you that the high rollers will win. Mayweather is widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, and he is fighting a mixed martial artist who has never had a single boxing match in his career. If McGregor wins it will be one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time.
The frenzy around this fight has largely been drummed up by McGregor’s bluster. He is an extremely talented PR specialist with a penchant for generating column inches via his sharp wit and larger than life personality. It has become a bit of a circus, but everyone is talking about it. Perhaps McGregor’s supreme confidence has filtered through to bettors and they believe him when he says he will knock out Mayweather in a few rounds.
Again, that would be an outrageous upset. This contest is being fought entirely on Mayweather’s terms. Were it an MMA fight in an octagon, McGregor would destroy him. But Mayweather is not an idiot. He is one of the most astute men in sport and he would not have come out of retirement to put his perfect 49-0 record in jeopardy if he did not have complete faith in his ability to win this fight. He is one of the best defensive boxers of all time and he will control the pace of this fight, picking his shots when he needs to and racking up the points. It is being billed as the sporting event of the century, but do not be surprised if it turns out to be a damp squib as Mayweather grinds out another dull victory. The bookmakers will be pleased if he does, and it seems like the only sensible decision right now.