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Analyzing a Layoff

Boxing Betting: Analyzing a Layoff

By Loot, Boxing Handicapper. Lootmeister.com

Boxing has really changed over the years. When it comes to the issue of ring activity, you see the most fluctuation compared to even modern eras. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see a fighter take to the ring once a year or take an extended layoff. In the 80's, for example, it was unheard of. A 6-month layoff would be just-cause to anticipate rust or a poor performance.

It can be difficult for the betting man to make sense of it all. Normally, a layoff would be a major ding on a fighter, but we are forced to look at it differently due to the changing nature of the sport--where layoffs are the norm instead of the exception. One thing we should do is analyze exactly why there was a layoff in the first place.

Fighters can be out of the ring for any number of reasons. Some are easy to identify. A fighter might have needed to tend to an injury. Surgery can keep a guy out for a long time. Some are more alarming than others. In boxing, you might want to see a knee problem more than a shoulder problem. It depends on the situation. Sometimes, a layoff can actually help a fighter get his house in order injury-wise. Other times, it could be a sign that he is breaking down. An older fighter who is going through this repeatedly would be of more concern than a young fighter who just needed to address a nagging issue.

Some fighters just can't line up a fight. Opponents might drop out. The right type of opponent is not available. Perhaps a fighter is setting his sights high and doesn't want to risk his standing. It's one thing when an established champion does this, but it is cause for alarm with a fighter who is still developing. You want to see them active, earning their chops before having to face the real people in the business.

A lot of prospects or guys right on the fringe can really go wayward by playing it like this. They take a year off right when they were building steam. Or they get a high ranking and go dormant waiting for their shot. Some even win a title and start suffering delusions of grandeur, seemingly unaware that there are almost 100 champions and you actually need to do something substantial to stand out among the masses.

Many times, however, it's not the fighter--it's the people moving him. The moving of a fighter is a lost art. Everything today is about immediacy and money. The bottom line is the same, however, as inactivity can never be good, especially for a fighter who still needs seasoning. It can't help and betting on a developing guy coming off a long layoff against a really tough opponent can be a daunting proposition. A lot of good fighters languish in the lower-ranks due to being moved thoughtlessly.

When a guy like Floyd Mayweather takes a long layoff, it's a little different. He has seen everything already. Usually, guys like that can be even better coming back from a long layoff. Sugar Ray Leonard looked pretty good in 1987 against Marvin Hagler after one fight in the previous 5 years. These fighters had already been everywhere and seen everything. Especially in the case with Leonard, the layoff only allowed him to recharge his batteries, with him coming off such a tough run of fights against the best of a glorious era.

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It's just a part of handicapping we now have to account for more. It seems like in every other fight, we're forced to determine the meaning behind one of the fighter's periods of inactivity. It takes a discerning eye. Rarely will it that obvious, such as when a fighter runs into legal or lifestyle issues that get a lot of publicity. Those situations can be easier to break down.

In situations where a fighter took a long layoff for no good reason, deciding how much importance to attribute to that can be difficult. We know being active is a good thing, then we see a lot of times where inactivity is not necessarily a bad thing. Like with anything, we need to look at each situation individually.

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