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Recognizing Greatness Early

Boxing Betting: Recognizing Greatness Early

By Loot, Boxing Handicapper,

One of the biggest challenges in boxing wagering is to get an early jump on the fact that a certain fighter may be capable of greatness. Boxing is unique in the world of sport. All fighters, regardless of ability, are in the same classification as professional boxers. In other sports, it's spelled out. There is college, Class A, and all other sorts of classifications that conveniently categorize everything. It's a little more difficult to pinpoint what's what in the Wild West atmosphere of boxing.

We see that not every fighter we peg as great actually comes to fruition. Sure, we've picked a couple over the years, while others looked great against inferior opposition, yet were unable to translate those skills against a higher class of fighter. As bettors, we are always on the lookout for diamonds-in-the-rough, unestablished fighters who seem capable of crashing the party of big-time boxing. When they do, we can capitalize on it at nice odds for a good win.

Sometimes, we're going to be wrong. We all can name dozens of fighters who we felt were shoo-ins to become great champs who fell short. One of the bigger mistakes is placing too much stock in how these fighters look against low-end opponents. It's a good sign when a fighter does what he's supposed to against losing opponents, but saying that means he's going to thrive at the top would be like you birdying a hole in miniature golf and thinking you can play in the Masters.

In some cases, the biggest problem isn't in prematurely thinking a fighter is great, but being reluctant to acknowledge a fighter's true potential. Often times, we are looking for the wrong thing. Rather than looking for defense, ring generalship, and versatility, we're looking instead for bone-rattling power or blinding speed. If history has taught us anything, it's that all that shimmers isn't gold. We need to look for well-roundedness more than just individual traits, no matter how good they might be.

Another key consideration is that a lot of fighters only show what they need to to show. In other words, they don't unveil their entire arsenals until forced to do so. While fighting inferior or mediocre opposition, they do what they need to do in order to win the fight. Their opponent is simply not good enough to bring their greatness out of them. A great fighter often can only prove he's great when matched up with a fighter capable of producing that kind of performance. Journeymen and regular contenders may not have been good enough to make that fighter need to go to that place where he shows greatness. But against a real champion or a very dangerous opponent, a fighter will need to unveil his full set of talents.

When trying to gauge a fighter's true potential, we need to develop an eye for whether that fighter has another available gear or two. He might not be showing his full abilities because his opponent is incapable of bringing it out of him. Or that might be all he can do. It's not easy, but after watching enough fights, you start to develop an inkling for when a fighter has something extra that he's waiting to bring out at the right moment--that moment being when his opponent is actually capable of dragging that out of him.


Considering the quality of a fighter's opposition is an important handicapping tool. It becomes a hindrance, however, when it leads us to incorrectly classify a fighter. If we look at the underdog at face-value and judge his merit only along the lines of who he has fought, we just might outsmart ourselves. There will be fights where the fact that a fighter has never been on a certain level will hurt him. Other times, a fighter will rise to the level of opponent he is fighting and produce a performance you might not have felt he was capable of providing.

When trying to get a solid read on a fighter, we need to look for what is there, but also at what might lie beneath the surface. We've heard it said about a lot of fighters that they only fight up to the level of their opponents--and that applies to an awful lot of fighters.

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