When even the bookmakers are shrugging their shoulders, you know it’s a tough fight to call.

Surveying the numbers for Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk at some of the major regulated U.S. online sportsbooks as of this writing (prices can fluctuate), we see that…

  • At FanDuel, Usyk is the tiniest of favorites at -114 odds (you’d have to bet $114 to win $100) over Fury, who’s priced at -108.
  • At DraftKings, it’s Fury who’s favored, with a -120 price, compared to even money, +100, on Usyk.
  • At ESPN Bet, Fury is also favored, but more narrowly, at -115, with Usyk at -105.
  • At bet365, it’s dead even, -110 each way.

Keep poking around at other sportsbooks, and you’ll keep seeing slight variations. But what you won’t find anywhere is a return richer than even money on either man.

I’m not going to say that’s unprecedented … but I’ve never before seen a fight of this magnitude, or close to it, close without either boxer priced as a true underdog. Even Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence, which opened dead even at one major book, closed with Spence a slight ‘dog at about +110.

So Fury vs. Usyk presents bettors with the extremely rare situation where they should only bet the moneyline on either fighter if they actually believe that fighter is going to win.

As a typical boxing example, to bet on Sebastian Fundora to defeat Tim Tszyu in March, a sports gambler didn’t have to be of the mindset that “The Towering Inferno” was more likely than not to prevail. Fundora was as high as a +550 underdog (bet $100 to win $550), meaning if one thought there was better than a 15.38% chance that Fundora would win, it was a sound investment, win or lose.

Not so for Saturday’s fight in Riyadh. There’s no value to be found betting on a winner straight up if you can’t say with some confidence which man you expect to triumph.

Fortunately, the bigger the fight, the more time and effort sportsbooks put into developing a menu of prop bets. For Fury-Usyk, some of the sportsbooks have turned into those 24-hour diners that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner around the clock and the menu is a spiral notebook made up of 12 double-sided laminated pages.

There’s a lot to sift through. But here’s some of what stands out to this betting journalist by day and boxing journalist by night who enjoys a good “sweat” that makes the viewing experience slightly more entertaining: 

Both fighters knocked down: This is my favorite somewhat-long-odds prop bet on the board, and it’s priced the same, +1000 (10-to-1), at almost every book. To be clear: It’s probably not going to win. But when you’re making a +1000 bet, you just want something that realistically could win.

Fury has been knocked down seven times in his career — and not just by once-in-a-generation puncher Deontay Wilder. Francis Ngannou, Steve Cunningham, and Neven Pajkic have each managed that trick. “The Gypsy King” is prone to lapses, doesn’t have the world’s greatest balance, and isn’t getting any younger, as they say.

On the flipside, Usyk has never been officially knocked down, but there was that controversial beltline-ish punch by Daniel Dubois that dropped him. He was also reportedly floored twice in the amateurs by body shots. Oh, and he’s going to be giving up 40 pounds or so on fight night.

There are paths to knockdowns for both men. And if you bet this, you’re never out of it — you have a live sweat pretty much the whole way.

Four or more knockdowns in various forms: FanDuel has both fighters to be knocked down two or more times at +4500. This is a terrible bet. Why, you ask?

Because FanDuel also offers four or more knockdowns in the fight at +5000 — a higher payout for a bet with additional paths to victory. Alternatively, DraftKings is offering both fighters knocked down two or more times at +7500.

Again, the +4500 wager is lighting money on fire. Whether you prefer 75-to-1 needing at least two knockdowns apiece or 50-to-1 needing at least four knockdowns total is a matter of personal taste. For reference, either bet would have won in Fury-Wilder III.

Other knockdown-centric weirdness: FanDuel has both fighters to be knocked down sometime in the first six rounds at +9500 — an intriguing price, especially because the same bet pays just +4000 at DraftKings. Five or more knockdowns total in the fight (again, would’ve won in Fury-Wilder III) is +16000, or 160-to-1, at FanDuel.

Fury to suffer a knockdown but win the fight is +1100 at BetMGM. Both fighters knocked down and Fury winning on points specifically is +3100 at FanDuel. Fury to be knocked down in Round 1 but win the fight by any method is a hefty +17000. That sweat may end after the opening three minutes, but if Fury does go down in the first round, what a thrill ride rooting for him the rest of the way.

Speaking of brief sweats, either fighter to score a knockdown in the first round is +5000 at FanDuel (compared to a mere +3500 at DraftKings). FanDuel has the same price for a knockdown in the second round. Bet ‘em both, and you’re getting 25-to-1 on a knockdown in either of the first two rounds, with the bonus upside of winning two 50-to-1 bets if there happen to be knockdowns in each of the first two rounds.

DraftKings is paying 150-to-1 on the scenario of both fighters getting knocked down and the bout ending in a draw. (A draw on its own is +1600 at most books.) That’s a fairly ridiculous bet to make — but not as ridiculous as DK’s offering of +25000, or 250-to-1, on both fighters knocked down at the same time. That is not something that happens once every 251 boxing matches. I’m not sure it happens once every 25,001 both matches. It is a sucker bet. (Unless it wins, of course.)

Of course, it is entirely possible — probable, even — that Fury and Usyk will box their way until the final bell without a single official knockdown scored. If that happens, the sportsbooks clean up on all of these prop bets, swiping every single chip off the table. ESPN Bet is the only book I found that offers two-way markets on this and allows you to bet under 0.5 knockdowns in the fight. The price on that: -130, meaning a bettor has to risk $130 to win $100 and endure the agony of dreading defeat anytime a punch lands.

Punch stat-based wagers: This is a new development as far as I know — regulated sportsbooks taking bets determined by CompuBox stats. The slope is slippery, as punch counting is not an exact science. Then again, wagers are often won or lost based on the whims of ringside judges, so, boxing betting has always been a “buyer beware” endeavor.

FanDuel has too many punch-stat-based betting options to even begin to absorb. A few examples: Fury to land 150+ punches, +115; Usyk to land 200+ punches, +250; both fighters to land 13+ punches apiece in Round 3, +280. It gets absurdly granular.

The thing is, these are not two-way markets. You can’t bet unders. So if the fight is over reasonably quickly, the house cleans up.

Two punch-stat-based parlay bets of note: bet365 has a pre-made parlay of Usyk by unanimous decision, Usyk to throw more punches than Fury, and Usyk to land more punches than Fury, “boosted” from a supposed price of +350 to +400. (If Usyk is going to win by unanimous decision, logically he probably throws more and lands more, so I don’t hate the bet.) FanDuel has a parlay of Fury to win, throw the most punches, and land the most punches at +360.

FanDuel also pays +5000 on Fury to land 350 or more punches, and the same numbers for Usyk. In his career, Fury has averaged 12.5 punches landed per round, and Usyk has averaged 13.3. These are heavyweights. Nobody’s approaching 350 landed shots. And if they’re fighting at that pace and landing at that pace, the fight is surely ending early.

Usyk by disqualification: Of all the wacky extreme longshot bets, this may be the one I find most appealing to toss a couple of bucks at. At FanDuel, this bet pays 100-to-1. As in, bet $1, win $100. Or bet $10, win $1,000. And so on. You get the math.

Can’t you envision a scenario in which Fury is looking washed up, taking a pasting from the smaller man (I can’t rule out a Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya-like scenario unfolding), and decides to foul out rather than get stopped?

Or perhaps just as realistic, isn’t there a world in which John Fury loses control of his emotions for whatever reason (or for no reason at all) and gets his son DQ’d?

It’s not a wager that I expect to win. But for a fight like Fury-Usyk that is so hard to confidently predict, the more ridiculous and improbable the scenario, the better.

Well, up to a point, anyway. Let’s all agree to draw the line at the simultaneous knockdowns option. 

Eric Raskin is a veteran boxing journalist with more 25 years of experience covering the sport for such outlets as BoxingScene, ESPN, Grantland, Playboy, Ringside Seat, and The Ring (where he served as managing editor for seven years). He also co-hosted The HBO Boxing Podcast, Showtime Boxing with Raskin & Mulvaney, and Ring Theory and currently co-hosts The Interim Champion Boxing Podcast with Raskin & Mulvaney. He has won three first-place writing awards from the BWAA, for his work with The Ring, Grantland, and HBO. Outside boxing, he is the senior editor of CasinoReports and the author of 2014’s The Moneymaker Effect. He can be reached on X or LinkedIn, or via email at [email protected].

Read the full article here