Andre Ward favored vs. Sergey Kovalev in Light Heavyweight title rematch

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The familiarity factor underlies why the sharps have given the betting edge to Andre Ward in his rematch against Sergey Kovalev.

Ward is the -160 favorite against Kovalev in the betting matchup for their light heavyweight title fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Ward won by an unanimous decision – each judge’s scorecard was 114-113 – in their first fight last November, which was also in Las Vegas.

Kovalev, who is 30-1-1 with 26 knockouts in his career, has the distinction of being one of just two men to knock down Ward in the ring. The Russian, who has a slight reach advantage against Ward (72 inches to 71), is the more powerful puncher of the two, as shown when he controlled the early rounds of their first meeting.

The +130 price on the boxing odds is enticing, given that a different evaluation in a couple of rounds might have led to Kovalev getting the decision in the match.

If the upset is to happen, it will probably involve Kovalev finishing the match relatively early. The latest that any of Kovalev’s knockouts have occurred is the eighth round. That said, realizing that goal is easier said than done against Ward, who is very elusive.

Ward, who is 31-0 with 15 knockouts, adapted adroitly against Kovalev in the first fight, working inside to immobilize his punching power. That first fight could end up being a prologue to a more decisive victory this time, since Ward, as the better all-around boxer, has the capability of controlling the tempo and limiting Kovalev from throwing the kind of devastating combinations that can set up a knockout (or knockdown) punch.

Ward can be counted on to stick with his game plan, which would likely involve working the body to wear down Kovalev.

A Ward win by knockout seems to be the least probable outcome, since the champion typically doesn’t have to risk going for the knockout in order to keep his belts. Eight of Ward’s last 10 fights have gone the distance with him winning by an unanimous decision, while the other two were stopped in rounds nine and 10 by technical knockout.

Mayweather vs. McGregor odds: Sportsbooks set betting lines, props for fight

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Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stand to collect a massive payday whether their superfight is a charade or a combat sports classic, and there’s plenty of upside for bettors too.

With the bout set, Mayweather is a -600 moneyline favorite against the +400 underdog McGregor at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.  Mayweather will put a 49-0 ring record on the line in the August 26 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, while McGregor, a UFC champion at two weights, might prove a point just by having a decent showing.

The moneyline has tightened considerably since the first rumors about the fight. Last November, Mayweather opened at -2250 and McGregor opened at +950. Evidently, many MMA fans found McGregor irresistible at that price, as it steadily dropped, falling to +450 by late April. That was also the point where the moneyline on ‘Money’ came down to -700.

The over/under on rounds is 9.5. A 10-round fight is uncharted waters for McGregor, but 13 of Mayweather’s last 14 fights have gone at least 10 rounds. Twelve have gone the full 12 rounds; the Mayweather-McGregor betting odds on whether the fight goes the distance pays +125 if it does, and -175 if it’s stopped early.

McGregor also pays +120 if he wins by decision, which is the standard outcome for his bouts against full-time boxers. McGregor’s method-of-victory props include +700 for a knockout and +3300 for victory by decision.

There is little in the way of past performance to go on here, since McGregor hasn’t boxed since he was a teenager in Ireland. Mayweather’s defensive skills should allow him to parry any early onslaught from McGregor, who is a knockout artist in the UFC octagon and rarely has fights go more than two rounds.

The round prices offer the most potential profit for Mayweather backers. One can assume that the skilled defensive fighter might dance around while McGregor goes out hard. It might be prudent to scale down expectations of a quick finish – +3300 for Mayweather winning in Round 1, +2500 for Round 2 – and look at the slightly later rounds. Rounds 4 through 6 are listed at +1600 and +1400.

While Mayweather’s round prices trace a reverse parabola, McGregor’s round prices are relatively stable. The Irishman offers +4000 for a win in Round 1, or each one from Rounds 4-7. There is a slight drop to +3300 for both Round 2 and 3.

Another way to bet on the Mayweather-McGregor fight is the 4.99 million total for pay-per-view buys. The over hitting would require beating the audience for Mayweather’s 2015 fight against Manny Pacquaio (4.6 million). McGregor also holds the UFC’s PPV record of 1.65 million, set at UFC 202 in August 2016

With boxing and MMA fans creating a larger fanbase and the event being scheduled for the dog days of late August – before the NFL and college football blot out everything else on the sports landscape – 5 million buys seems doable.

Mayweather coming back to fight UFC star McGregor Aug. 26

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC star Conor McGregor will meet Aug. 26 in a boxing match that will feature two of the top-selling fighters in the world.

The two fighters both announced the fight Wednesday, after months of speculation about whether Mayweather would come out of retirement at the age of 40 to face a mixed martial arts fighter who has never had a pro boxing match.

Oddsmakers immediately made Mayweather a big 11-1 favorite in a fight that will take place in a boxing ring and be governed by boxing rules.

“It’s official,” Mayweather said on Instagram next to a video poster of both fighters.

“THE FIGHT IS ON,” McGregor tweeted several minutes earlier, posting a picture of himself next to one of Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr.

Mayweather, who retired in September 2015 after winning all 49 of his pro fights, will face the Irish UFC superstar at the MGM Grand arena. He had tweeted a picture of himself sparring in recent days to show he was already getting ready for the bout.

“This is really an unprecedented event,” said Stephen Espinoza, who heads Showtime Sports, which will handle the pay-per-view. “Really we haven’t seen anything in modern history that resembles it, it’s impossible to predict how many sales this will do.”

Espinoza said the fight came together quickly after McGregor and the UFC reached agreement last month on their end of the deal and Mayweather’s team pushed for the fight in recent days.

“All parties were motivated and reasonable and thrilled we could get everything done,” he said. “The sky’s the limit on this.”

Mayweather will fight at the relatively advanced age of 41 in a bout that McGregor has been pushing for months. It finally came together and Nevada boxing officials on Wednesday approved the date for a Mayweather Promotions bout.

Though oddsmakers make Mayweather a big favorite, the thought of the fight has excited many in the MMA world. It has also intrigued some in boxing, though most dismiss McGregor’s chances under boxing rules against one of the greatest defensive fighters in history.

Even if the actual bout may not shape up as a great matchup, the run-up to the fight will. Both fighters are noted for their ability to sell their fights, and both have exchanged in trash talking and more to promote their bouts.

“As with every Mayweather and McGregor fight part of the appeal is the spectacle and outsize personalities who are participating in it,” Espinoza said.

The pay-per-view revenue for the event would likely gross tens of millions of dollars. It comes less than a month before Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez meet in a highly anticipated fight Sept. 16 that could rival it for pay-per-view buys.

This story has been corrected to show that Mayweather is 40 years old, not 41.