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Reduced Confidence in the Market

Boxing Betting: Reduced Confidence in the Market

By Loot, Boxing Handicapper,

When we follow the sport of boxing long enough, there are going to be those periods where we ask ourselves "What are doing?" When the results don't match what happens on the field of play, we should become concerned. Why engage in a form of betting where we spend so much time handicapping if we're just going to get screwed in the end anyway?

In recent years, the amount of bad decisions has grown to an alarming level. Not to imply that boxing has always been a sport totally on the up-and-up. Scandal and this sport go together like cuff and link. In recent years, however, it just seems like the volume of crappy decisions has increased.

Every sport has some element of this--where poor officiating results in a losing wager. When betting baseball, an umpire not counting strikes can shift the result of a game. A couple of phantom pass-interference calls can take a winning football bet and make it a loser. A basketball ref can call a few iffy fouls that result in you not covering the spread.

It's a little different in those sports. These officiating snafus occur during the game and are more blended into the action. Poor officiating in boxing stands out more. It's the result itself. Both fighters are in the ring, as everyone awaits the decision. Boxing judges are perhaps the most powerful arbiters in sports. There is no scoreboard. So when they screw up--it's on a very visible platform. When an official screws up in another sport, it sort of blends in with the rest of the game. In boxing, the reading of the scores are the last thing to happen. It's an actual verdict of the entire event, not simply a ruling on a detail of the game.

So bad boxing decisions just stand out more. The judges have a lot more power than in other sports and the fact that their opinions determine the actual result of a game just makes it so there are more eyes on them. In a different sport, an official can easily make a call or a series of calls that affect the result just as much as the boxing judges do--but it's more camouflaged within the game itself.

This is not to imply that boxing is not a sport rife with shenanigans. The bad decisions are rampant--make no mistake. But perhaps this dynamic has been overstated ever so slightly. We remember the bad stuff more. We can see 50 fights go down without a hitch, but the one time the judges get it wrong is the fight that sticks with us. It stands out like a sore thumb.

Let's be honest about bad decisions. We don't like to see them. We'd rather have results that are true to the action we saw in the ring. But any longtime boxing bettor will tell you about the times a bad decision saved their bet. The tendency on the part of a betting man is to remember the times he was snake-bitten by a bad call, while conveniently forgetting the times he benefitted from it. If we assume there will be bad decisions and you bet on boxing long enough, you should benefit from bum decisions about as often as you are victimized by them.


That might seem like a copout. If we need to depend on random events like horrible decisions just happening to fall in our favor, we might as well be playing roulette. Why spend all this time handicapping a boxing match if it's just going to a random gambling event decided by the arbitrary ruling of judges?

That's why some people have a hard time betting on this sport--which was once the most popular of all forms of sports-betting. There are those who just couldn't stomach being screwed by judges. And over the years, there have been some high-profile scoring scandals where if you were on the wrong side of it--you might not have ever bet on boxing again. It would have been like betting on a baseball team and they win 8 to 3, then the PA announcer says the team with 3 runs is declared the winner. No one would be betting baseball if that's how it went down.

So when we bet on boxing, we need to recognize these instances as occupational hazards--part of the job. At the same time, it'a not difficult to see how a once-booming betting sport now has more of a niche market.

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