Guide: How to bet on Boxing

Boxing is big business, with the biggest fights in the sport taking place in some of the most glamorous venues across the world – not least MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Betting on boxing is therefore a very popular pastime and some of the most high-profile fights can generate plenty of wagering action for sportsbooks.

If you want to familiarize yourself with the different bet types in boxing, check out our guide on the various types of boxing bets available. You can also reference our guide on how to bet on MMA, as there are plenty of similarities between boxing and mixed martial arts.

Once you are comfortable with what you can wager on, read on below for our guide on boxing betting strategy.

Ignore the hype

Before placing any wagers or conducting any research on a boxing match, the best thing you can do is detach yourself from the emotions of an upcoming fight. By this, we don’t mean not betting on your favorite boxer – backing someone you support is a fun part of sports betting and can add plenty of entertainment value. What we mean is ignore the hype.

Ahead of every major boxing match, there is almost always heavy trash talk from both sides. Both fighters will tell the world why they and only they will emerge out of the ring victorious. Before his loss to Tyson Fury, for example, Deontay Wilder said he would knock Fury out with a “flying elbow kick.”

Some fighters will be extra motivated to finish a particular opponent and this definitely being worth considering when betting on boxing. And yet most hateful trash talk is put aside once a fight ends, with both boxers embracing in sportsmanship after the event. So separate all emotion, trash talk and hype from what you really think will happen in the ring.

Record and recent form

What boxing bettors should most definitely study is the recent form of a fighter, as well as their overall career record. Has a boxer fought regularly over the last year or so, or are they out of practice? Have they been challenging for world titles or picking off opponents much weaker than them on paper?

It’s always useful to be especially aware of a fighter’s last performance. If they won via knockout, but were actually losing the fight on points having been knocked down several times, what does that tell you about their overall performance?

Looking at a fighter’s overall record is crucial, too. For example, if a fighter has 28 wins and 1 loss to date, and is facing someone with 15 wins and 5 career losses, the former would be a clear favorite. But what if that fighter’s only loss came against a boxer with the exact skill set and fighting style of their upcoming opponent?

Undefeated records must equally be scrutinized as they won’t always tell the full picture. An undefeated record like Floyd Mayweather’s is undisputed, being a true reflection of his quality as a boxer and the betting probability of him winning every fight.

Others, however, may be unbeaten due to hand-picked fights that create an aura of invincibility without truly testing the fighter. When Anthony Joshua fought Charles Martin in 2016, both men were undefeated. As Joshua cruised to a second-round knockout victory, though, the difference in class between them was palpable; this, too, served as another example of ignoring Martin’s hype before the fight.

How good is the actual boxing?

When assessing a fighter ahead of a bout, evaluate what type of fighter they are – in other words, how good their actual boxing is. This will help your boxing betting in a wider sense, as it will assess method of victory bets as well as wagering on the money line.

Boxers can sometimes be referred to as “knockout artists,” which implies aggression and power over strategy and technique (even though the boxer in question could still be adept strategically). Assess a fighter’s knockout percentage, as well as their defense and ability to take a punch.

Again, Mayweather was the archetypal defensive boxer, while Fury has built a career on tactical boxing ability. If a knockout specialist is facing a defensive fighter, it’s worth looking into whether they’ll cancel each other out.

Fighting stance

In boxing betting, it’s important to consider how fighting stance will affect the outcome of a match. Sylvester Stallone’s beloved Rocky famously boxed as a southpaw in the movies, while Fury has in the past switched between fighting orthodox and southpaw.

Fighters with an orthodox stance – left foot forward and right foot back – are more common in boxing. This can give fighters with a southpaw stance – right foot forward and left foot back – the advantage, as there are less southpaw fighters around for orthodox fighters to train against.

Other physical attributes to give consideration are a fighter’s reach and weight. A taller boxer will have a higher reach but this can sometimes be sacrificed for agility.

Meanwhile, even in the same weight class, one boxer can be significantly heavier than the other – especially in the heavyweight division. A heavier fighter will likely have more knockout power, though they will also be slower and less agile.

Pre-fight preparations

While boxing matches are settled in the ring, a boxer’s training camp and pre-fight preparations can be several months long for one single fight. Boxers coming off the back of a loss will often blame their pre-fight training camps, while victorious fighters will credit the work their team put in in the build-up to a match.

A key consideration is how long a fighter has had to prepare for a specific bout – some late stand-ins can be at a disadvantage if they replace a fighter just a few weeks before a fight; this can happen if the original fighter gets injured or fails a drug test. However, the reverse can sometimes apply when a fighter has been training specifically to fight their original opponent.

Both Joshua’s first and second fights with Andy Ruiz Jr serve as perfect examples here. As a late replacement for Jarell Miller, Ruiz caught Joshua completely off guard in their first fight, as the Mexican ended Joshua’s unbeaten record.

In the rematch, however, a leaner, more tactical Joshua won in 12 rounds and never allowed Ruiz’s knockout power to trouble him. After the fight, a visibly larger Ruiz said he had partied too much after his first win and gained too much weight (around a stone) ahead of the rematch.

The coach

Essential to a boxer’s pre-fight preparations is their coaching setup. And, during the fight itself, who you have in your corner – advising you between rounds – is just as important.

In preparation for a particularly big event, if a fighter either changes coach or hires an extra trainer to work on a specific area of their game, this will certainly be worth accounting for in your betting. Equally worth examining is the caliber of a fighter’s training partners.

If a fighter chooses high-quality sparring partners, they can be better prepared than a fighter entering a bout overconfident, after training with opponents weaker than them. The influence and style of a coach becomes extremely important here.

Some of the best coaches in boxing, such as Freddie Roach, have made a huge difference to multiple fighters throughout their career. If a coach like this has a history working with successful fighters, their experience will no doubt benefit the boxer they are currently training.

Injuries

During a fighter’s training camp, injuries can impact a boxer’s ability going into a bout, which will often be reflected in their odds – although this can sometimes be hidden. When Joshua knocked Dillian Whyte out, for example, Whyte complained of a shoulder injury after the fight that did appear to hinder his aggressive style.

Other post-fight complaints have been less believable in the heavyweight division, such as David Haye bemoaning a broken toe after losing to Wladimir Klitscho. But, when Haye ruptured his Achilles tendon against Tony Bellew, the whole dynamic of the fight changed.

Live betting

Haye’s injury against Bellew is the perfect example of how momentum can swing during live betting. Once all your pre-match research has been done and the fight has already started, your betting opportunities do not disappear.

Rather than becoming limited, live betting can leave you with an even greater amount of options once a fight is underway. An injury, cut or knockdown can change the course of a fight dramatically and live betting allows you to wager on what will happen next.

Equally, if you have studied up on a particular match and were not able to choose a wager leading up to the event, you can use all your gained knowledge once a fight has started – with the added benefit of seeing how the opening exchanges have unfolded. Odds will change throughout a match, giving you the opportunity to assess changes on the money line, round betting, method of victory and more.

Avoid the heavy favorites

With just three possible outcomes in a boxing match (and the tie being more of a rarity), sometimes the money line odds are just too short for a favorite for the wager to make sense. This is especially the case if a fighter is a heavy favorite but is considered likelier to win via decision.

Here, it would be tempting to bet on the favorite to win by knockout simply to ensure you get longer odds. But just because your odds are longer, it does not mean a knockout is more likely to happen.

When the odds are unreasonably short for a favorite, it’s worth looking at other markets in boxing betting, as you would need to bet a much larger stake for a reasonable return. In cases like this, you are exposed to wagering a big stake for a small return – without a guaranteed win. Joshua was an extremely short-odds favorite when he lost to Ruiz, for example, as was Whyte when he was knocked out by Alexander Povetkin.

Who will score the most points?

Knockouts are an exciting and brutal part of boxing, and numerous fights across the calendar will be settled either by knockout or technical knockout (when the referee stops the fight). But a good portion of fights will be settled via decision, so it’s worth taking into account how effective a fighter is at scoring points when betting on boxing – in case a knockout does not occur.

For this reason, it’s important to study the judges’ scoring system, learning what boxers can do to earn points per round. Important factors are how many shots are landed, so look at a boxer’s jabs per round as well as their power punches.

Judges’ scorecards can often be controversial and widely disputed by the public but, both for boxers and boxing bettors, judges ultimately have the final word. So incorporate point scoring when learning how to bet on boxing – and don’t just rely on knockouts.

Boxing has no seasons

Finally, a unique aspect of boxing can either be considered a bonus or a hindrance, depending on your aims and point of view. Unlike the NBA, NFL or MLB, there is no preseason, regular season or postseason in boxing.

Boxing matches are agreed without any set schedule, while negotiations for high-profile events can take months at a time. The spontaneous nature of this scheduling means there will be plenty of new, unexpected opportunities for sports bettors to wager on boxing.

This emphasizes the entertaining nature of the sport, although bettors looking to make a long-term profit betting on boxing will have to take this unpredictable calendar into account. It’s also worth noting the biggest fights will attract betting action from huge audiences across the world, reducing the chance to find unique betting angles and value.

Unlike some MMA events, the most highly anticipated boxing matches will draw attention from all over the world. So for all the best odds, offers and lines in boxing, make sure you compare before you bet.