Saved by the Props.
That’s the wagering anthem for the boxing world in general and Saturday’s Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz heavyweight championship rematch from Las Vegas in particular.
Prop betting, particularly a wager of both a group chain and individual knockout rounds by either fighter, provide an appetizing menu offsetting the bout’s lopsided win-line odds.
Wilder, who knocked Ortiz out in their first fight in March of 2018, is nearly a 7-to-1 favorite on Saturday, while Ortiz is close to being a 4-to-1 underdog at most major sportsbooks. That creates a nearly-impossible betting reward for a Wilder backer and practically demands any Ortiz bettor to commit substantial interest to the win line only. Props would be an exciting, but minor, part of this ticket, given the enticing price for Ortiz to win. Yet he has already lost to Wilder. Is there confidence in that bet?
For the public, this is an acceptable rematch. Ortiz did hurt Wilder in the first fight, once nearly stopping him and this, at 40, is likely his last crack at glory. Wilder and Andy Ruiz, who shocked Anthony Joshua as a roughly 42-to-1 underdog in June, are the glamor division’s glamor names. A rematch with Ortiz is preferable to nothing, given the longshot odds of Wilder meeting Ruiz or Joshua soon. Wilder may next fight Tyson Fury in a rematch of their earlier draw and he can’t look past Ortiz, etc.
But how do gamblers enjoy this fight?
General brush up
Before giving props their … well … props, let’s view the win line at DraftKings Sportsbook for those who may not be familiar with betting fights.
As of Tuesday, Wilder was -715 and Ortiz was +425. To understand these payouts, put the number 100 in between them. For Wilder, that means one would have to wager $715 to win $100, a nearly prohibitive 7-1 outlay. On the Ortiz side, a successful wager of $100 would win $425.
That means he’s a bit more than a 4-to-1 underdog. There’s a fairly sizable spread between the favorite and underdog, reflecting either a small betting pool or a lack of conviction for Ortiz.
A Wilder bettor sees no value in this line and would have to look elsewhere.
There are more palatable options for Wilder backers though. He’s -305 ($305 to win $100) to win by knockout, disqualification or technical knockout. He’s +500, a handsome 5-1 return, for a decision victory. The fighters went 10 rounds the first time. Think they can eke out two more? That would be a nice payout for a Wilder decision. In fact, a decision by either fighter would be no worse than +425. (Remember these odds can change quickly).
Ortiz returns +600 for a knockout victory, +1600 for a decision, and a draw is 25-1 at DraftKings (it’s +3700 at FanDuel Sportsbook). Some bettors wager and score on draws in the belief that judges will render a strange verdict.
William Hill practically sports the same numbers in the main event. Wilder is a 6-1 favorite and Ortiz a 9-2 underdog. Anything below 10-1 odds in a boxing match is considered reasonably competitive and a fertile upset range is that 7-1 to 10-1 pocket.
When you see odds of 2-1 or less, one can bet it with confidence and, even if not wagering, enjoy the fight.
And along comes the breath of fresh air.
FanDuel Sportsbook adds the dimension that, for many bettors, saves this fight. Offering a group of potential knockout rounds as one bet, along with providing individual round wagers, it produced a prop worth playing if the bout does not go the distance.
Picking a group of knockout rounds is a fun, and realistic bet. Taking a hunch on a mid-rounds knockout, for example, gives the bettor nine minutes to work with.
A Wilder knockout in the first three rounds returns +430. It pays +290 for rounds four through six, +340 for rounds seven through nine and, interestingly, +750 for rounds 10-12. Their first fight went 10 rounds. A repeat of that verdict alone is a payout of nearly 8-1.
Individual rounds are also available to bet, ranging on 19-1 for a Wilder first-round knockout to 100-1 for Ortiz in the final round.
What the doctor ordered
This prop addresses a major wagering weakness for boxing. The sport does not have a classic spread bet. One can’t lose a three-point decision and cover because he was getting six. There are no “player to score” wagers and because the point scoring is not known throughout the fight, in-game betting does not work.
On the flip side, many fights do have over-unders for round distance. Many major fights have individual round props at the books, but it’s been slower to materialize online. And there’s this nice wager too. The grouped and individual knockout rounds are a winner for boxer going forward.
It’s also a reasonable expectation for this fight.
Wilder has a 41-0-1 record with 40 knockouts and he likes rematches. After seizing the title with a gritty 12-round effort against Bermaine Stiverne in 2015, he won the 2017 rematch in one round.
Wilder is the longest-reigning heavyweight champion in the sport.
Ortiz is 31-1 with 26 knockouts, losing only to Wilder. He would pay a whopping 24-1 for a stoppage inside of three rounds and 31-1 in the final three rounds according to FanDuel.
Ortiz has won three straight since losing to Wilder and is an awkward southpaw.
Although few expect Ortiz to score an upset, this is why they fight the fights.
Nobody thought Ruiz would beat Joshua either. And now they are fighting again, on Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia, with Joshua a former champ.