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A Sharp Bettor's Guide to McGregor-Mayweather Fight

LAS VEGAS – This Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight at T-Mobile Arena has been called a lot of things: travesty, mockery, charade, freak show, etc. However, sharp sports bettors know that there’s a price for everything, even for a bout that most expects have as a mismatch with the undefeated Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) taking on McGregor, the MMA star who hasn’t boxed since his youth.

Jimmy Vaccaro, one of the oddsmakers for VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point, set the odds back in February at Mayweather -2700/McGregor +1200. That’s the same opening price that Vaccaro set when he famously was the only Vegas bookie to take action on the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas “mismatch” in 1990. History tells us that Vaccaro closed Tyson at -4200 and Douglas pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

Back to the present, early money came in on McGregor at the South Point as well as the Westgate, which opened Mayweather -2500, and all the talk of Vegas wiseguys was to wait until the price on Mayweather dropped to its lowest point. There was no rush for wiseguys to bet, especially as the fight wasn’t made official until June 14. That’s when the price on Mayweather dropped into triple digits (-900), but sharps continued to be patient as the line kept dropping. Not even the $880,000 bet on Mayweather -550 by the Maloof Brothers on Aug. 11 at the South Point has stopped the downward movement in this line.

South Point odds for Mayweather-McGregor

Date                         Mayweather       McGregor

Feb. 16 (open)       -2700                       +1200

June 15                   -900                          +600

June 17                   -600                          +450

Aug. 11                   -550                          +400

Aug. 22                   -490                          +390

On Tuesday of fight week, the line sits at Mayweather -490/McGregor +390 at the South Point and most other books in town. A lot of people can’t envision this line going any lower in Las Vegas, though it was at -425 at Pinnacle earlier this week and even as low as -400 at Bovada. However, Chris Andrews, the sports book director at the South Point, said the other day during VSiN’s SuperContest Weekend broadcasts at the Westgate that there should be plenty high rollers from McGregor’s homeland in Ireland that will be backing their hero.

This Sharp Bettor’s Guide isn’t designed to tell you what the bet, but more importantly in this case is when to bet. As mentioned above, the wiseguy play appears to be to take Mayweather at the lowest price possible, but we’re not saying that anyone who believes that McGregor can win this fight isn’t sharp as well. But we will say that anyone who likes McGregor and hasn’t already made their bet isn’t sharp. He was available at +1200 at the South Point and +1100 at the Westgate, and even if bettors missed those early numbers, they were widely available at +600 and +700 when the fight was announced on June 14. Anyone considering taking +400 or less has to turn in their sharp card.

Other Mayweather-McGregor bets

This fight has the usual will go/won’t go bet (aka over/under) and the KO/Decision/Draw option, plus there are plenty of prop bets popping up for the Super Bowl-sized event, but we’ll focus on the former.

The South Point has the will go/won’t go at 7.5 rounds with -115 on the over and -105 on the under. Most other books have the line at 9.5 rounds with heavy juice on the under (Westgate was -170 on the under as of early Tuesday morning with most other books around -160). The Nevada Athletic Commission’s decision to allow 8-ounce gloves has a lot more people thinking this fight won’t go the distance. There are many that say that this helps McGregor, who it’s expected needs to go for an early knockout to have a chance, while others feel it also aids Mayweather who should be landing more punches and potentially doing more damage with the smaller gloves.

There will be some sharps shooting for a middle by taking over 7.5 at the South Point and under 9.5 rounds elsewhere, though the key to that strategy is to try and get the lay the least juice possible. Bettors willing to narrow their middle window a little were able to go under 9 -140 at Station Casinos and under 8.5 -130 at William Hill as of early Tuesday morning. We expect to see more variance in over/unders around town leading up to fight night and sharp bettors will be shopping for the best value.

South Point result props

Mayweather by KO                -140

Mayweather by decisio         +150

McGregor by KO                   +425

McGregor by decision          +2200

Draw                                     +4500

The result props are reflective of the conventional wisdom that the fight won’t go the distance as the odds on Mayweather and McGregor winning via knockout are both lower than their odds for a decision. It’s obvious that a lot of people backing Mayweather and not willing to lay -500 will take their chances on the significantly lower price of -140 for a Mayweather stoppage. Likewise, those believing McGregor’s best chance is to go for the knockout will be drawn to the +425.

The worst bet on the board from a sharp perspective is the +150 for Mayweather to win by decision. We’re not saying it won’t happen, but if you believe the fight is going the distance anyway, it would be better to just take the will go 9.5 rounds at +140 (available at many Vegas and offshore books as of Tuesday morning) and not sweat the decision.

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