For over a century, boxing and betting have gone hand in hand. After a dip in popularity, boxing wagering is in the midst of a renaissance thanks to super-fights that have garnered broad interest from both hardcore and casual fans around the world.
Betting on boxing is a lot like betting on other one-on-one sports, such as MMA. You can wager on who will win, how they’ll win, and how long a fight will last, among other things. But people who are more familiar with betting on team sports, like the NFL, will have to get used to boxing’s unique schedule and plan their betting activities accordingly.
Below are the different ways you can find enjoyment wagering on the sweet science. In this guide, we touch on the integral aspects of betting on boxing including scheduling, moneyline bets, round betting, method of victory betting, parlay betting, and other special bets unique to boxing.
Boxing Scheduling Stands Apart
Unlike the major pro sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB) boxing doesn’t have a set schedule. Fighters agree to individual matches, one at a time, usually a couple months in advance. But with the number of different weight classes and the general world popularity of the sport, there are always fights to bet on.
Sportsbooks make sure of this because they want your business. They will even go so far as to post odds on rumored fights when marquee names are involved. For instance, you could have bet on Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather long before the fighters ever put pen to paper and formalized their agreement. When you bet on a rumored fight, you will receive your stake back if the fight does not happen within a certain time period (which will be specified by the sportsbook).
The same goes for the boxing matches that are official but don’t end up happening for one reason or another. For example, if one of the fighters gets injured, all bets on that match are void and wagers are returned to the bettor.
But let’s assume that everyone is going to stay healthy and focus on what types of bets are available in boxing. We go into a little more detail on many of the subjects below in our guide to the fundamentals of betting on the MMA.
Reading Boxing Odds and the Moneyline
Like most sports, you can place a traditional bet on every single boxing match available. All you have to do is pick who you think is going to win (or, unique to boxing, pick a draw).
Below is an example of what a “moneyline” looks like along with an explanation on how to read the odds.
The example above uses “American” odds which, intuitively, are what you will find on US sportsbooks. However, many international sportsbooks use the decimal or fractional odds format, as you see below.
With American odds, the favorite will be attached to a three or four-digit negative number while the underdog is attached to a three or four-digit positive number (so just look for the “-” sign to ID the favorite, and the “+” sign to find the underdog).
In the example above, Golovkin is the favorite at -300, and that -300 number tells you that you need to wager $300 on Golovkin in order to win $100. When the number is positive, it means something slightly different: it tells you how much you will win on a $100 wager. So if you bet $100 on Alvarez at +250, you will win $250 in profit if he wins the fight. If you correctly predict a draw, a $100 bet would give you a profit of $2,500.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to wager $100. You can risk smaller and larger dollar amounts and get paid out at the same rate (i.e. a $200 bet on Alvarez would pay out $500 in profit) but the standard moneyline odds are given in terms of $100 wagers.
Round Betting: Boxing’s Over/Under (O/U)
Picking which fighter you think will win is not the only way to bet on boxing. Nearly every sportsbook offers over/under bets, which are wagers on how long a fight will last. Note that betting on boxing’s over/under is very different than betting on totals in conventional sports. The odds for over/under betting work exactly as they do on the moneyline, except instead of betting on individual fighters, you bet on whether or not a fight will go past a certain round. Most of the boxing matches you can bet on are made up of 12 three-minute rounds.
Below is how a sportsbook may present an over/under round wager:
On most sportsbooks, a bet on the “over” is successful once the fight goes past the 1:30 mark of the 11th round. If the fight ends at any point before that, the “under” is successful.
However, some sportsbooks treat these types of bets differently: if the fight ends any time before the 11th round, the under wins; if the fight lasts a full 11 rounds (or longer), the over wins; and if the fight ends during the 11th round, the bet is a “push.” Be certain you understand how your sportsbooks deals with over/under round betting before you wager. Scrutinizing the terms and conditions of your sportsbook is essential. If it is not clear from the prop, itself, don’t hesitate to contact the site support or help center for a more fulsome explanation.
If you do a little research on the combatants, the profit potential of over/under betting can be far more lucrative than the standard moneyline wager. If a fight appears to be close or has odds that are too skewed to make traditional bets lucrative, that’s a good time to take a look at betting on the over/under on rounds.
For example, if Gennady Golovkin is a huge favorite at -500 and is expected to dominate the fight, it might not be worth betting on him to win. But if you’re confident he will finish the fight in under 10.5 rounds, then you would get a much better payout by betting on the O/U. As you’ll note, both the over and the under have a moneyline attached to them (-110), representing the potential payout on each bet.
In our example above, the bookmaker has decided both outcomes are equally likely and set the same -110 payout for the over and the under, but this won’t always be the case. Often you’ll see one option have (occasionally much) shorter odds.
Boxing’s Version of Method of Victory Betting
Another way to potentially get better value is by betting on method of victory, especially for matches that are expected to be one-sided. With method of victory betting, you have to select how a fighter will win, the options being:
Below is how a method of victory bet would appear in a sportsbook:
This is a good way to bet if you have a strong opinion about who will win and how the fight will end.
Parlay betting allows you to wager on the outcome of two or more matches on a single ticket. The only difference between a parlay bet and a straight moneyline bet is that, with a parlay, all the boxers you picked must win in order for your wager to cash. If you parlay three bouts and even one of the matches doesn’t go as planned, you lose all the money you put on the line. Parlay betting can be risky but can also be somewhat lucrative due to higher payouts.
Parlays generally aren’t presented in any particular format on sportsbooks. You simply add multiple wagers to your bet slip and then select the “parlay” option, if one is available. Just like with single bets, you then enter in the amount you want to bet (or the amount you hope to win), and the site will calculate the other half of the equation.
Other Special Bets in Boxing
The moneyline, over/under rounds, and method of victory are the main ways people wager on boxing. But other specialty props are often available, especially for marquee fights. For instance, you may be able to wager on any or all of the following:
- Will there be a knockdown in the fight?
- Will Fighter A beat Fighter B by a certain number of points? (This is effectively betting against the spread)
- Will Fighter A have any points deducted? (This was available in the McGregor vs Mayweather fight when many people thought McGregor would wind up using some illegal UFC moves in the ring!)
Combat sports can be a lot of fun to wager on. However, like any sport, it’s important to choose your bets wisely; do your research and pick the fights that work best for you.
Once you look at all the angles, feel confident that you know and understand the betting options available to you, throw down a wager and enjoy the action in the ring.