1. Boxing Divisions And Weights Explained
Boxing is a martial art, and the most high-profile combat sport in the world. As with all martial arts, it takes place between two combatants in a specified fighting zone, which, in the case of boxing, is a roped off, elevated square, ironically known as a “ring”. The size of the ring will differ depending on the magnitude of a fight, the stipulations of fighters, or location of the event, but must be at least 16 square feet and can be as large as 24 square feet. (Sports bettors should note that small rings favor big punchers and large rings favor slick boxers.)
The object of boxing is to strike the opponent with gloved fists in order to score points and win rounds, to render the opponent unable to continue due to a sustained, undefended attack, or to strike said opponent with such force that they are incapacitated for a count of ten seconds, resulting in a knock out or KO.
Almost as important as throwing punches is avoiding getting hit in return, and this is done by blocking blows with ones gloves, arms and shoulders, and by avoiding punches with head, lateral or foot movement. Boxers can strike their opponents anywhere above the belt, including the head. Blows below the belt, to the back of the body and to the back of the head are illegal.
Boxing Weight Divisions
Boxers compete in weight classes, and in professional boxing these range from Minimum Weight which is 105 lbs., up to heavyweight which has no maximum weight limitation. It is not unusual for a fighter to begin his career in one weight class, and have moved up several divisions by the time he retires. Manny Pacquiao for example began his career as a light flyweight, but boxed as high as super welterweight.
There are currently 17 weight classes in professional boxing (ten more than in the amateurs), and these are listed below:
- minimum-weight, 105 pounds (48 kg)
- light flyweight, 108 pounds (49 kg)
- flyweight, 112 pounds (51 kg)
- super flyweight, 115 pounds (52 kg)
- bantamweight, 118 pounds (53.5 kg)
- super bantamweight, 122 pounds (55 kg)
- featherweight, 126 pounds (57 kg)
- super featherweight, 130 pounds (59 kg)
- lightweight, 135 pounds (61 kg)
- super lightweight, 140 pounds (63.5 kg)
- welterweight, 147 pounds (67 kg)
- super welterweight, 154 pounds (70 kg)
- middleweight, 160 pounds (72.5 kg)
- super middleweight, 168 pounds (76 kg)
- light heavyweight, 175 pounds (79 kg)
- cruiserweight, 200 pounds (91 kg)
- heavyweight, unlimited
Amateur boxing is fought over the distance of three 3-minute rounds. Like most amateur sports, boxing is open to the very young, and in the UK children can box in amateur competition from the age of 11, while in the USA the minimum age is eight.
Amateur boxing is the breeding ground for the professional game, and the vast majority of contenders and world champions throughout history first boxed as amateurs. UK amateur boxers aspire to compete in the annually held ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) championships, while in the US the initial goal of amateur boxers is the city, state and national Golden Gloves competitions.
The highest echelons for successful amateur boxers is to medal at the European Championships, Pan-American Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and of course, the Olympics. Boxing has a great tradition at the Olympics, and Olympic boxing history is as rich as swimming or track and field, with legendary three-time gold medalists like Lazlo Papp, Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon.
Famous Olympians who have won gold medals and become great professional boxers include Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Nino Benvenuti, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon and Michael Spinks, Oscar De La Hoya, Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis and Andre Ward.
British world champions James De Gale and Anthony Joshua are both Olympic Gold medalists.
There are ten weight classes in amateur boxing:
- light flyweight, not more than 108 pounds (49 kg)
- flyweight, 115 pounds (52 kg)
- bantamweight, 123 pounds (56 kg)
- lightweight, 132 pounds (60 kg)
- light welterweight, 141 pounds (64 kg)
- welterweight, 152 pounds (69 kg)
- middleweight, 165 pounds (75 kg)
- light heavyweight, 178 pounds (81 kg)
- heavyweight, 201 pounds (91 kg)
- super heavyweight, any weight over 201 pounds (91 kg)
Professional boxing is open to anyone who can pass a medical, has a background in boxing or similar combat sports like MMA and kickboxing, and is over the age of 18 (some Latin American countries like Mexico allow 16-year olds to turn pro). There is no prerequisite that a professional must have competed as an amateur, although if a boxer has aspirations of achieving anything in the sport, an amateur pedigree is pretty much essential.
While amateur boxing is highly regulated, with official governing bodies in every country in the world, all functioning under the global banner of AIBA (Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur) now known simply as the International Boxing Association, by comparison professional boxing is almost the “Wild West” of sports.
Countries like the UK have their own professional boxing governing bodies like the BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) who in general do a fine job, but in the US for example, boxing is regulated by individual states, and the demands on issues such as strict medicals, CAT scans and drug testing can vary widely from state to state.
Boxing is well regulated in Germany, but in Russia there appears to currently be an “anything goes” mentality when it comes to PEDs and corruption.
The major world governing bodies in boxing are the WBC, IBF, WBO and WBA. Each is an independent entity in charge of compiling its own world rankings, leaving them open to suspicions of bribery and corruption, especially when boxers with seemingly padded records and no major victories are suddenly placed high in their boxing divisions rankings.
Professional boxing bouts will vary in length from 4-6 rounds in duration for novices, 8 round bouts for intermediate level boxers, and 10-12 round fights which cover eliminators and title fights. World title bouts are always 12 round contests, as are European, Commonwealth and British title fights.
2. Boxing Betting Explained
Unlike sports such as football and tennis that have multiple betting markets available, even the most adventurous of online sportsbook will rarely offer more than six markets on a boxing match, no matter how big an event it might be.
Here are just some of the more popular boxing betting markets, with boxing betting lines explained:
This is simply backing one fighter to defeat the other, and taking the available odds. You are not picking the round, nor the method of victory, just the fighter.
This bet works best if you are 100% certain that Fighter A – the favorite – beats Fighter B and can accept you will have to bet a large amount to win a small amount, or you have a rock-solid tip or you know because of your boxing expertise that Fighter B – the underdog – will defeat Fighter A, and you can bet on the upset.
Be sure to check the boxing odds with bookies like Coral, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power for the best deals.
In a 12-round title bout, this bet will usually be set at 9.5, and you wager the bout will last less or more than 9.5 rounds.
With this bet you are not picking a winner, you are simply forecasting that you think the fight will last no more than nine rounds (-9.5) or more than nine rounds (+9.5). For example, if you know that one fighter in the bout lacks KO power but is durable and has a habit of going the distance, you could be looking at a boxing odds payout if you bet on +9.5
With this bet you are backing a fighter to win by specific means, i.e., by Decision or by KO, TKO or DQ (all the same bet).
Some bookies will also provide odds for either fighter to win by those methods.
Winning Group Of Rounds
Backing a fighter to win within a specific trio of rounds – rounds 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, or 10-12 – is a way of getting great odds on a bet. If you know that a fighter has a reputation of starting fast and finishing off his opponents inside three rounds it makes sense to bet on him to win inside rounds 1-3.
If a fighter has a tendency to start slowly before getting rid of the opposition by the middle rounds – like middleweight king Gennady Golovkin for example, you could bet on them to win within rounds 4-6 or 7-9.
This bet is when you back a fighter to win in a specific round. This is the toughest boxing bet to call, but the one that invariably provides the best odds. Ideally, one would use this bet to back a ferocious puncher to dispatch a fighter with a suspect chin in the first round.
3. How To Bet On Boxing And Win
A strategy is a plan of action, and the implementation of a sports betting strategy no matter how basic is always a better option than betting on a whim or a hunch. Most sports betting strategies work best when the bettor has a sound knowledge of the sport at hand and of the protagonists in a matchup, be it a football match, a game of tennis or a boxing bout.
In the case of boxing , the more a bettor knows about the boxers going into a match, the greater their chances of winning their wager.
Developing A Betting Strategy For Boxing
Creating betting systems for boxing is not as complex as it might seem. In many ways, picking the winner of a fight is far easier than selecting who will be victorious in a football match, where teams are made up of eleven players (not including substitutes) and any one of those players could score a winning goal or concede a penalty.
By comparison there are just two participants in a boxing match, and if both are a similar size and both turn up in the peak of condition, the victor will be decided by a combination of who has the superior skills, punches harder, takes punishment better or just plain wants it more.
Mismatches are prevalent in boxing, normally on an undercard, where a rising prospect will be fed a serial loser. The odds on the underdog springing an upset will be spectacular (and seductive) but don’t be fooled, these kind of upsets rarely happens, so try to avoid betting on such bouts.
Here are just three factors to consider when compiling your boxing strategy:
Boxer Or Puncher?
A quick look at a fighter’s record will reveal what type of fighter they are. If they have a high percentage of KO’s among their victories, they are the type of fighter who favors aggression and powerful punching, and looks to win inside the distance. These fighters are often referred to as “KO Artists” and number stars like Anthony Joshua, Sergey Kovalev and Gennady Golovkin among their ranks.
If a fighter has a low percentage of KO’s and tends to go the distance and win on points, they are considered to be defensive specialists who focus on the art of hitting and not getting hit in return. Prime examples of defensive specialists include Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
When making a bet, assess what type of fighter you intend to back, and if their skills will be sufficient to get the better of their opponent.
Many fight fans believed that Manny Pacquiao’s speed, aggression and punching-power would be too much for Floyd Mayweather when the two finally met in May 2015. On the night however, Mayweather’s finely honed defensive skills meant that Pacquiao barely managed to land a glove on his rival – much to the frustration of millions watching worldwide!
Study Recent Form
Check out the recent form of the combatants in the fight you want to bet on; have they recently suffered a defeat or been held to a draw? Have they beaten anyone of note lately? Have they been staying busy or are they returning from a period of inactivity?
One fighter in a bout may have a far worse record than his opponent, but on closer inspection he may be on a hot streak and recently defeated a quality fighter.
Unbeaten records might look great, but often the possessors of such records have been cosseted, and as soon as they come up against a world-class opponent, they lose.
Assess Physical Size and Strength
There is an old adage in boxing that “a good big man will always beat a good little man”, and this is often the case. In heavyweight boxing where there are no limits on weight, it’s not unusual to see fighters taller than 6’6” and scaling more than 250 lbs. If these men are matched with conventional sized heavyweights that stand 6’2” and weigh around 220 lbs., unless the smaller man is far superior skill wise, those physical disadvantages will be too great to overcome.
Occasionally fighters appear within a weight class who are freakishly tall and with an exceptionally long reach for their division, hit very hard and maintain their strength despite their spindly appearance. Welterweights Thomas Hearns, Mark Breland and Paul Williams all stood 6’2” or more, yet became world champions, enjoying huge physical advantageous over other 147-pounders.
Thanks to the modern day practice of fighters weighing in some 24 hours before a fight, rarely are the combatants an accurate reflection of their weight class come fight night. Many fighters including world champions are highly adept at limiting their carbohydrates and liquids in the days leading up to the weigh-in, making the weight, then re-hydrating so that when the bell rings they are as much as 20 lbs. heavier.
Even two men in the same weight class can be markedly different in terms of size and strength. Aside from height and reach, one might be significantly heavier than the other come fight night.
Is A Fighter Focused?
How focused are the combatants going into a fight? Sometimes stories emerge of fighters skipping training camp to go partying, or getting involved in situations that could prove distracting, or having domestic issues.
Sometimes a highly ranked fighter is more focused on the next fight instead of the “stay-busy” fight that is taking place. If his next bout is a world title shot or a big-money bout, they might “take their eye off the ball” and an upset could well be on the cards.
In 2010 Britain’s Kevin Mitchell was unbeaten and the no.1 ranked contender in the world at lightweight. Mitchell took on Australian brawler Michael Katsidis in a final eliminator the WBO title. Mitchell, a superb boxer-puncher was a big favorite to defeat Katsidis, whose reckless fighting style and habit of leading with his face meant he was tailor-made for the Brit.
On fight night Katsidis demolished Mitchell in three rounds. After the fight, Mitchell admitted that he had allowed his troubled personal life to affect his training camp, and that his mind had never been on the job at hand, and he had paid the price for poor preparation.
Time and again we hear beaten fighters subsequently telling the press they were “distracted” going into the fight due to personal issues, failure to get motivated, or even a poor training camp. Ideally a fighter should have tunnel vision going into any bout, and if you read that a boxer is going out and partying when they shouldn’t be, it might be worth backing the opposition.
4. Boxing Bookmakers
When choosing a sportsbook for your boxing betting, several factors need to be taken into consideration:
Choose A Reputable Sportsbook
This is the first and most important rule to follow, no matter the sport you wish to wager on. The safest option is an established European sportsbook like Paddy Power or William Hill. If you would like to go with a newer sportsbook but you are unsure of their pedigree, see if they are featured or reviewed on bettingexpert.
Avoid all US sportsbooks, as online sports betting is illegal in the United States, and these sites are unlicensed. If you lose money you will literally have no comeback.
Choose A Sportsbook With Multiple Fights & Boxing Markets
Unfortunately far too many online sportsbooks cover very few fights, and offer only one market for the boxing matches they cover – the Winner of the fight. Even UK bookies are guilty of this, ironic for a nation that at the time of writing this guide had 13 world champions!.
Choose A Sportsbook That Supplies Great Boxing Odds
Obviously, consistently solid boxing betting odds are essential, and while it’s impossible to expect your chosen sportsbook to always have the very best available odds for all markets for an upcoming fight, it would be nice to think they weren’t too far short.
To read reviews of the biggest and best bookmakers in the industry, please refer to bettingexpert’s bookmaker reviews listing.
5. Boxing Betting Tips
If your own knowledge of boxing is somewhat limited, and you don’t trust yourself to consistently pick the winning fighter, method of victory or group of rounds in which the fight is likely to end, you will need the help of an expert tipster. Major fights are normally previewed by the tabloids, both in print and online, with veteran boxing scribes only too keen to put forward both their choice of winner and method of victory.
Websites like Boxing News Online and ESPN boxing provide detailed previews, and for major fights will publish articles featuring multiple staff members’ supplying their own particular take on how the bout will pan-out.
However, if you’d rather not have to read through all of this material, and it’s purely boxing betting advice you are after, you need to check out the boxing betting tips provided by the expert tipsters at bettingexpert.
Bettingexpert is renowned as the no.1 betting advice site online, and much of that reputation is based upon their tipster leagues, where visitors to the site can see for themselves the level of sports betting consistency it takes to top such a table.
Needless to say, if the big fight is approaching and you are still undecided as who to back, your best bet is to log on to bettingexpert and check out the free picks and predictions provided by the best expert tipsters in the business!
6. Boxing Live Streaming
Currently no online sportsbook provides live streaming for boxing matches. If you live in the US you can watch boxing on cable outlets like Showtime, HBO and ESPN as well as on regular TV channels via the PBC. Boxing is screened regularly on TV throughout Europe and is a big ratings grabber in Germany where major bouts shown on terrestrial TV.
In the UK, boxing is rarely shown on the BBC or ITV and instead is the domain of satellite broadcasters like Sky, Eurosport, BT Sports and ESPN. Sky Sports in general does an excellent job covering boxing and delivers many domestic title fights during the course of a year as well as international world title bouts.
Live Streaming On BoxNation
Boxing also has its own dedicated satellite TV channel in BoxNation. Founded by UK boxing promoter Frank Warren backed by a business consortium in 2011, BoxNation delivers 24-hour boxing coverage and boxing related programming for just £12 per month.
BoxNation regularly vie with Sky for the rights for major bouts from Las Vegas, and have shown fights featuring many of the sport’s biggest attractions in recent years including Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Carl Froch, Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and David Haye.
BoxNation also provides a boxing live stream online service, enabling customers to enjoy all BoxNation programming and live fights on their PCs, tablets and smartphones.
To learn more about bookmaker live streams, please read our detailed guide to accessing bookmaker live streaming.
7. Boxing History
The history of boxing dates back to some 3000 BC, and attempting to chronicle it in detail would require several volumes – or a large website. Instead, we will focus on some highlights of the sport from the turn of the last century to the present.
Jack Johnson – First Black Heavyweight Champion
50 years before Cassius Clay shocked America by joining the Nation of Islam, changing his name to Muhammad Ali and refusing the draft for the Vietnam war, and a century before a certain Floyd Mayweather was making a career out of being an obnoxious irritant, a black heavyweight named Jack Johnson was infuriating the white establishment with his larger than life persona, his penchant for white women, and his unbeatable skills in the ring.
In 1908, a time when lynching was still a regular occurrence in the US, the fearless Johnson chased champion Tommy Burns across the world before finally cornering him in Australia and taking the world title in eight rounds. The term “Great White Hope” was coined when the search began to find a white heavyweight to beat Johnson. It would be a long wait before a 37-year old Johnson finally lost to 6’6” Jess Willard in Havana, in dubious circumstances.
The First Million Dollar Gate – And Purse
Boxing really took off as a major sport in the roaring twenties, thanks to the all-action style of Jack Dempsey, the “Manassa Mauler”, the man who conquered Willard and whose fight with French WW1 hero Georges Carpentier was the first ever “Million Dollar Gate” in which more than $1 million was generated purely in revenue through the turnstiles. In all five of Jack Dempsey’s fights achieved such a feat.
Formerly a penniless drifter and hobo, Dempsey was the archetypal “hungry fighter” and his ferocity and punching-power in the ring would inspire others throughout history, none more so than Mike Tyson, who idolized Dempsey so much as a youngster he even copied his haircut.
Dempsey’s title-losing fight against Gene Tunney in 1926 took place in front of a crowd of 120,500, an attendance record that would last for 57 years. The rematch with Tunney the following year was also the fight that featured the infamous “long count”, and champion Tunney was paid $990,445. Tunney subsequently handed promoter Tex Rickard $9,555 so he could receive boxing’s first ever check for $1 million, which he framed!
Louis vs Schmeling – The USA vs Nazi Germany
Joe Louis was the first black American to challenge for the world heavyweight title since Jack Johnson, but while Johnson was largely vilified, the softly spoken mild-mannered Louis was so devastatingly effective in the ring he made all of America love him.
This was never more evident than when he defended his title against Germany’s former world champion Max Schmeling in 1938. Schmeling had knocked out Louis in ten rounds two years earlier in a stunning upset, and since then the threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany in Europe had grown, and the rematch was seen very much as Good vs Evil, even though Schmeling was no Nazi, and his manager Joe Jacobs was Jewish.
70,000 fans crowded into Yankee Stadium to see Louis exact a brutal revenge on Schmeling, knocking him out in 2:04 of the first round, and breaking several ribs and vertebrae in the process.
Sugar Ray, Rocky and Ancient Archie
The 1950s was dominated by three American fighters; Sugar Ray Robinson had ruled the welterweight division in the 1940s, and in 1951 in what would later be used as the backdrop for the movie Raging Bull, Robinson took the middleweight title with a 13th round stoppage of Jake La Motta. Despite getting on in years, Robinson won the middleweight belt five times in total in the 50s, and is regarded by most experts as the greatest fighter who ever lived.
Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano might have only been 5’10” tall and weighed less than 190lbs., with boxing skills that were rudimentary at best, but he was so tough, determined and physically fit and hit so hard that he would retire with a perfect 49-0 record, winning 43 by KO.
One man who tried and failed to take Rocky’s title was Archie Moore, arguably the greatest light heavyweight champion of all time. A victim of bad management, Moore was already 39 years old when he finally got a title shot, but he was still good enough to keep the light heavyweight belt till he was nearly 50!
Muhammad Ali Changes Sport Forever
When Muhammad Ali refused to enter the US army in 1967 on religious grounds, he instantly became the most famous (at the time infamous) sportsman in the world, a position he would hold until his death in 2016. Ali was stripped of his title, faced jail time and would lose three peak years of his career, yet he showed with this stance that he was just as brave outside of the ring as he would prove to be in it.
Always interesting and often controversial outside of the ring, Ali was truly brilliant inside it. He beat the best fighters of three great heavyweight eras – the late 1950s (Liston, Patterson, Williams, Folley and Moore), the 1960s (Quarry, Ellis, Bonavena, Chuvalo and Cooper) and the of course, the 1970s (Frazier, Foreman, Norton, Shavers, Lyle), never ducking a challenge and defeating all of his rivals in their prime. His career longevity, his bravery and the amount of punishment he took undoubtedly contributed to the Parkinson’s Syndrome that affected him from his mid-30s until the end of his life.
Leonard, Tyson, De La Hoya, Mayweather and Pacquiao
Like Dempsey, Louis and Robinson before him, Ali had carried boxing on his shoulders, so when he retired in 1981, the hunt was on for his replacement. Welterweight Sugar Ray Leonard filled the void with his flashy skills and exciting style, and in the early years of Pay Per View (PPV) generated tremendous interest – not to mention huge purses. By the mid-1980s boxing had its next heavyweight megastar – a 20-year old sawn-off slugger named Mike Tyson, whose impact on boxing was more sudden and violent than anything that had come before. Tyson became boxing’s biggest ever superstar, creating media interest in everything he did and generating enormous PPV figures every time he fought. Tyson earned hundreds of millions of dollars in his career, yet was flat broke when he retired.
Another fighter who earned big but kept his money and is now a major promoter is Oscar De La Hoya, the Mexican-American Olympic gold medalist dubbed the “Golden Boy”. Handsome, charismatic, articulate and intelligent, De La Hoya could also fight like a dream, and his bouts against the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins were huge PPV extravaganzas.
At the end of his career, De La Hoya suffered defeats to both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, and it would be those two fighters that would carry the sport in recent years. Six-weight world champ Pacquiao became a global boxing icon due to his all-action fighting style and humble personality. By contrast, five-weight world title winner Mayweather would become the sport’s ultimate “heel”, a character that everyone seemingly loved to hate and are willing to pay good money hoping to see him lose.
Through a combination of excellent defensive skills in the ring and clever matchmaking that saw him either avoid his most dangerous rivals altogether or wait until they were years past their best, Mayweather managed to remain undefeated throughout his entire 49-fight career.
In 2015, some six years after it was first proposed, Mayweather and Pacquiao finally met in the ring in a bout that generated so much money, the fighters were able to share a combined purse of $300 million. The fight generated enormous interest among sports bettors, with the boxing betting almost equally divided among Mayweather and Pacquiao, and twitter awash with up-to-the-minute boxing betting tips.
Not surprisingly, Mayweather won a decision in an awful fight which may have done far more harm than good for the sport of boxing in the long term.
As a sport, boxing has made more comebacks than Tom Jones, and every time its critics count it out, it bounces back. Every time a superstar fighter hangs up his gloves, there are those only too ready to toll boxing’s death knell. However within no time at all, right on cue, a new superstar emerges.
The era of Mayweather and Pacquiao may be coming to an end, but already exciting talents like Britain’s world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and American welterweight Errol Spence are establishing themselves as the box-office superstars of the future.
Boxing has suffered a slump in the US, but appears to have turned the corner, with a host of exciting stars on the horizon. In Europe boxing is in exceptionally good health, with the UK and German markets established as the biggest in the world right now.
All in all, it’s a great time to be a fan of betting on boxing. By using your own acquired knowledge, plus a little help from the expert tipsters at bettingexpert, boxing is a great sport to bet on. Boxing is booming in the UK, and if the strength and depth of Britain’s amateurs is anything to go by, that boom looks set to continue for years to come.
It’s only a matter of time before all of the major sportsbooks realize that the betting market for boxing is potentially massive, and start treating fight fans with the respect that they deserve, with more fights covered, more betting markets, and more special offers!
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