Odds, hype, gloves making Mayweather-McGregor compelling

Mayweather and McGregor stand face to face at a match previewA last-minute decision to change to smaller boxing gloves would normally be the biggest story in the lead-up to a fight, but for Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor it feels like a footnote. Mayweather and McGregor have fueled the hype machine for their bout on Saturday with endless twist and turns and headline-grabbing moments, to the point where the actual fight almost seems secondary.

Nevada’s athletic commission approved a change from 10 oz gloves to 8 oz gloves for the fight, which could have serious ramifications. The smaller gloves are closer to what McGregor is used to from fighting in the UFC, which could aid him in his first professional boxing match. Less weight also means less of a cushion and harder punches, increasing the possibility of a knockout. This would appear to play into McGregor’s hands, seeing as he is known for his powerful strikes while Mayweather hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2011.

But Mayweather remains the heavy favourite, and rightfully so as he aims to improve his professional record to 50-0. Mayweather’s defensive technique is second to none, and his training footage suggests he hasn’t lost much of his signature speed and agility at 40 years old. Even with the smaller gloves, McGregor will still need to land a clean shot, and Mayweather has made a career out of not getting hit.

Still, bettors seem to believe McGregor has more of a chance than oddsmakers were willing to give him. He opened as a massive underdog when the fight was announced, but a steady stream of wagers has brought the betting line to a more reasonable point. Mayweather entered the week as a -475 favourite, while McGregor is now a +375 underdog. Part of the reason for the drastic movement was that placing a bet on Mayweather initially made little sense due to the miniscule payout possibilities, but McGregor’s great odds mean nothing if he can’t win the fight. The safest way to wager on this fight is likely a prop bet on a decision victory for Mayweather, who is adept at boxing to win rounds on the scorecard.

For all the excitement and all the money that will be on the line when Mayweather and McGregor step into the ring, a decision win for Mayweather without a lot of punches landed would be anticlimactic, but it also seems like the most probable scenario. There’s no logical reason to believe someone with a perfect two decades of professional boxing will lose to a relative novice, but the beauty of boxing is in its unpredictability, and that’s why everyone will be watching on Saturday.