Upset Odds Continue to Narrow as Bettors Flock to McGregor Over Mayweather

Back in November of last year – when the idea of legendary fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. facing mixed-martial artist Conor McGregor in a regulation boxing match was just a rumor – online sportsbook Bovada opened the betting with “Money Mayweather” as the massive (–2250) favorite.

As a 15-time world champion with an unblemished 49-0 career record, Mayweather’s stature certainly warranted heavy favorite status, just as McGregor (+950) was the rightful underdog making what many observers see as a publicity stunt in transitioning from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

But by the time promoters and regulators made things official on June 14 of this year, the lines at Bovada had experienced significant movement in favor of McGregor.

At that time, Mayweather had been downgraded to a (–800) favorite, while McGregor’s number narrowed to (+500).

One day later, the odds on Mayweather and McGregor stood at (–600) and (+400), respectively.

Fast forward just over two months later, and those trendlines have stayed steady. Today, Mayweather can be backed at (–400) and McGregor for (+300).

For “Money Mayweather” bettors, that number represents the best odds offered so far, while supporters of “The Notorious” One now face their lowest possible payouts to date.

The drastic movement in these lines has been attributed to basic wagering imbalance, rather than any realistic appraisal of McGregor’s chances.

On August 21, ESPN gambling reporter David Payne Purdum reported that, as of that date, the MGM Grand Race and Sportsbook in Las Vegas had accepted “over 6,000” bets on McGregor – as opposed to only 277 bets on Mayweather.

Jay Rood, who serves as vice president of MGM Resorts’ race and sports division, told Purdum that this discrepancy is directly responsible for McGregor’s odds firming in the fashion they have:

“This is like hanging -3 on the Super Bowl and seeing the line move to -8. This could be the worst loss in the history of MGM Resorts.”

The ratio between Mayweather and McGregor wagers remains relatively constant across the various live and online bookmakers.

In an interview with CBS Sports, William Hill’s director of trading Nick Bogdanovich reported that his venues have accepted 16 times the action on McGregor – positioning the book as big fans of Mayweather:

“I think there will be some late Mayweather money but not enough. We’re going to need Mayweather big, just not sure how big.

I knew there would be money on McGregor – they bet him heavy in UFC – but never in a million years did I think it would be this kind of money.”

Despite the mention by CBS Sports of a $150,000 wager on McGregor, accepted by William Hill at (+480) odds, the majority of money being staked on the fight backs Mayweather.

Per a tweet posted August 23 by Jeff Sherman, manager of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, 92 percent of betting is on McGregor – but 82 percent of the total handle is made up by Mayweather action. Those numbers essentially mean that the average Mayweather wager amounts to 50 times the average McGregor ticket.

Speaking to Yahoo.com in July, Kevin Bradley – sportsbook manager for Bovada – described the site’s ongoing balancing act when setting its odds:

“We knew this fight would be big, potentially even bigger than the Super Bowl, but now we are almost certain it will be. The recent trash talking and promotional tour is only encouraging bets and at this rate we cannot even imagine how much we will take on it.

One thing is for sure though, we will need Mayweather huge. A McGregor early round KO as he promised would be a potential disaster and is partly a reason we are giving a great price on Mayweather at the moment.”

The highly anticipated fight will air live on Showtime (pay per view only) on Saturday night.