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Fighters Coming Off Bad Losses

Boxing Betting: Fighters Coming off Bad Losses

By Loot, Boxing Handicapper,

In boxing, there are many different routes to victory or defeat. We may look at a fighter's record and we see him either winning or losing by decision or knockout, but that hardly tells the whole story. Within those categories are losses and wins that are better or worse than the rest. Specifically, there are losses and even wins that make it extremely difficult to bounce back.

We sometimes take a result at face value, without acknowledging the true ramifications. This is a tough sport. In other sports, we can look at wins or losses as merely past results. In boxing, things happen in a fight that can render a fighter a spent force. Then when you bet on him, you're basically not betting on the same guy.

In some fights, a boxer has to fight hard. Not just hard, but as hard as he's ever fought. The conditions of the bout make it a dogfight where both guys have a lot on the line and are putting it all out there. They leave their hearts in the ring and are never the same. Look at the third Ali-Frazier fight--the famed Thrilla in Manila. They put it all on the line, extracting every ounce of strength, will, and effort from their aging bodies. Though Ali won, neither man was ever the same.

We need to take special note when a fighter leaves it all on the table like that. It can especially be a problem with a fighter who gives it everything he has and performs extremely well, only to literally have the fight beaten out of him. One thinks of the "Baby Bull" Juan Diaz, the former lightweight champion. He took on esteemed legend Juan Manuel Marquez and to a lot of people's surprise, was giving Marquez quite a run for his money.

He fought like a possessed man--with a singular focus and commitment that threatened to take Marquez out of the fight. He had the gas pedal floored and was fighting with as much passion as you could hope for. And he was winning. Then we began to realize that not only was Marquez not going anywhere, he was starting to fire back. He basically absorbed Diaz' full onslaught and then started spitting it back at him, knocking the fight out of Diaz, who never seemed to capture the form he showed before the beating. Something happens to a guy when he literally gets his fight beaten out of him.

Tommy Hearns had rebounded from the Sugar Ray Leonard defeat and was primed by the time he stepped into the ring with feared champion Marvin Hagler in 1985. He winged shots at Hagler in a passionate display of slugging. The lethal-punching Hearns connected with shots that would have wobbled most heavyweights. Working against him was that he was facing among the most durable fighters ever in Hagler. Hearns busted his hand on Hagler's skull. The bleeding Hagler rallied and laid out Hearns, who remained dangerous, but never quite recaptured his prior form.

It doesn't even have to be a physically-draining loss. It can be a defeat that just mentally destroys a fighter. Bernard Hopkins, the extraordinary former champion, lost a lot of his power at a late age, but the psychological beatings he gave fighters like Kelly Pavlik and Jean Pascal were enough to send those guys on a downward slide where they never fully recovered.


The key is that as boxing bettors, we need to be able to see the writing on the wall before it's apparent to everyone else. Not that every fighter will fall apart after a bad loss. Some guys come back better. We're looking for a very specific kind of fight, where a guy literally leaves it all in the ring and fights so hard and takes so much punishment that we suspect he is spoiled goods. Or when a high-flying fighter gets embarrassed in a manner in which he can never recover--like when Naseem Hamed lost to Barrera.

It's especially helpful if we can see this happen with a victorious fighter. He gets credit for the win, but we know there is a lot behind what people will see when consulting the record book. Fights like that can cause fighters to hit a wall. They were successful and on a good run of wins, but there was one fight that forced them to start making that descent down the hill. When they fight again, we might find a good spot taking the other side.

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