Thankfully, the spring boxing schedule is filling up with some solid action after a dreadfully long, slow, virtually fight-less winter. Fans will be treated to several high-profile bouts this spring, but what may be most intriguing about this upcoming run of fights is the real possibility for some high-end upsets. Actually, for those inclined to make a wager or two, there stands a good chance of making some money-earning bets on several underdogs.
On April 9, rising heavyweight star Anthony Joshua challenges for IBF titlist Charles Martin in what is thought to be a breakout fight for the talented Brit. William Hill boxing betting website lists defending champ Martin as a +400 underdog, something which should raise a few eyebrows among bet-minded fans. Yes, Joshua should win, but he’s a completely unproven entity. And while Martin is little more than a paper champion with a resume nearly as thin as Joshua’s, he also has fairly heavy hands. It might be worth the gamble to place some money on a hard-hitting southpaw against a young, unproven fighter wobbled by lesser punchers in the past, especially if that wager brings you a four-to-one return.
A week prior to the Joshua-Martin fight, Adrien Broner will take on Ashley Theophane on April 2. Broner, of course, will be the favorite and, so far, the odds are stacked against Theophane at +1000. But if you know boxing and you know Broner, you know “The Problem’s” real problem with self-destruction in big fights. Betting on Theophane, with the possibility of a ten-fold return, is a smart risk.
On April 9, Manny Pacquiao will enter the ring in what is being billed as his last fight. He’ll be pitted against an opponent he handled decisively twice prior in Timothy Bradley. Of course, the betting odds will favor the legendary Filipino icon. But this is not the same Manny as before. This will be a diminished, distracted Manny Pacquiao, beleaguered by bad press and distracted by a Senate race that seems to be slipping through his hands. And he’ll be entering the ring against a rejuvenated, aggression-infused Bradley who has flourished so far under the tutelage of new trainer Teddy Atlas. As of this writing, Bradley is a +210 underdog—and that makes him a live dog in this fight.
April 16 is supposed to be the coming out party for welterweight prospect Errol Spence Jr. as he faces Chris Algieri on NBC. The betting odds have responded accordingly, making Algieri a +700 underdog. But, Pacquiao blow-out aside, the crafty Algieri has never been an easy night’s work for anyone and has managed to score his share of quality wins (Ruslan Provodnikov, Emmanuel Taylor) while Spence’s resume is paper-thin with no real names of note on it. Yes, Spence is mega-talented, but he will be getting his first real test against Algieri and, given the odds posted, it might be worth betting on him flunking that test.
Odds are evening up on the May 7 Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Amir Khan bout and that’s because people are realizing that the boisterous Brit has the tools to beat the red-headed Mexican. Listed as a +240 underdog, it’s still worth gambling on a Khan upset. If Khan uses his legs and boxes the larger, stronger Alvarez, he could take the upset decision win. Some fans will point to Alvarez’s size and punching power as it stacks up against Khan’s vulnerable chin—and they have a point. But Alvarez struggles against movers and Khan certainly has the raw athleticism and ring IQ to make the Mexican’s life miserable. A Khan victory is not science fiction, it’s actually a smart gamble on a live dog.
Boxing is an unpredictable sport and, as we’ve seen time and time again, it’s called the “Theater of the Unexpected” for a reason. This spring, a whole list of potential upsets line the fight schedule and each stands to shake up the fight world. Despite the slow start to the year, things are about to get very interesting for fight fans.