I’m going to preface my eventual point with some reality: I haven’t bet on a fight in a long time and I’m far from a gambling expert. In fact, I stopped gambling on sports because I find that, for me (and I speak only for myself), gambling sucks all the fun out of sports, especially boxing. Given the choice between enjoying a great fight and picking the right winner for a profit, I’ll go for the great fight ten times out of ten.
(With all the different ways the fight may go down, it probably isn’t a good idea to go all in on any bet for Mayweather-Mosley)
That said, I pay attention to gambling lines. I like talking about them and anticipating good and bad bets. So, given the interest in this fight, I am going to indulge in some of that here.
What I am not interested in using as a preface is the whole wink-wink nudge-nudge “If gambling was legal…” caveats that clever writers use on the Internet to talk about betting and lines. While that might be necessary if you write for a Web site owned by Disney, it would be mere paranoia here.
Contrary to popular belief, gambling is not illegal in a blanket sense, as far as I know. If two friends want to put $20 on the fight Saturday, Federal Agents will not be banging down the doors to stop them. The illegal aspect comes from the rake and vig and other nefarious gambling terms that emerge from making a profit regardless of the result. Basically, when someone is acting as a bookie (outside of Las Vegas), it’s illegal. Beyond that, talking and writing about gambling is far from illegal, thanks to the good old First Amendment. No caveats necessary.
So consider this a guide to potential wagers with your friends, if you are so inclined. Or just think of it as an examination of what the lines can tell us about the fight. I will be using the lines from Bodog because I find them easiest to access.
It is important to keep in mind that liking a line is not the same as picking a fighter to win. The odds factor into the decision of what is and is not a good line immensely. So without further ado, I like the following lines for the fight:
“Sugar” Shane Mosley +300 ($100 bet wins $300) – Right away, the difference between picking a fight and picking a line is evident. I like Mayweather to win this fight. However, I think it is a much closer matchup than the lines indicate. This line says that Mosley has about a 1 in 4 chance to win the fight. Personally, I think Mosley has about a 2 in 5 chance to win the fight, meaning that he should be about a +150 underdog from my perspective. Taking that into consideration, a straight-up bet on Mosley looks good. He is capable of both earning a decision over Mayweather or knocking him out, which are important to take into consideration since you can also bet on either of those outcomes individually. However, if you are inclined to bet against Mayweather (and I get the feeling many are), taking Shane straight up could prove a wise decision.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather by decision -200 ($200 bet wins $100) – If you are intent on betting Mayweather, this is the line for you. Mayweather is a -450 favorite overall, but only a -200 bet by decision. How many people honestly think Mayweather is going to knock out Mosley? (Cue comment section chaos.) The oddsmakers don’t like Mayweather’s shot at a knockout, giving him a line of +400 by KO/TKO/DQ. The disparity of these lines makes little sense to me. The line for Floyd by decision is actually where I think the line should be for Mayweather overall, but I like him enough by decision to like this bet.
Mosley by KO, TKO, or DQ +700 ($100 bet wins $700) – Frankly, I don’t think Mosley knocks out Mayweather. However, at 7-1 odds, I like the possibility a lot more. Before being knocked out by Mosley, Margarito was considered to have one of the best chins in boxing. For a fighter coming of a KO win over a seemingly indestructible opponent, the oddsmakers have seemingly little respect for Shane’s ability to KO Floyd. Or, perhaps, they just have that much respect for Floyd.
Shane has similar odds to win by decision (+650) but I like the knockout wager more. The odds are slightly better and I actually have a little more trouble envisioning Shane winning by decision than winning by knockout.
Bonus line: Amir Khan-Paulie Malignaggi over 11.5 rounds -175 ($175 bet wins $100) – I’m stepping away from Mayweather-Mosley for this one because, frankly, the over/under lines for Mayewather-Mosley are atrocious and I usually like action on the over/under lines. If you like a fighter by KO it’s probably Mosley, so you’re better off betting on that than the under. And the over, which is -365, is just brutal, so you’re just better off picking the fighter you like by decision.
However, I fully expect Khan-Malignaggi to go the distance. Malignaggi isn’t knocking anyone out and I’m not sold on Khan’s power at 140 being enough to take out the Magic Man. I know Malignaggi was stopped by Hatton but Paulie has looked far better since switching trainers before the Diaz bouts. Plus, styles make fights, and I don’t see Khan mauling Malignaggi the way that Hatton did (although Ricky boxed well in that fight, too).
So, despite my admitted bias for Floyd, I actually think the lines for Shane are more attractive in this fight overall. The book may be underestimating the third-best fighter nicknamed “Sugar” in boxing history, which could pay off for Mosley fans in Vegas to see the fight on May 1.