Las Vegas Sun

May 20, 2022

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Holyfield win has sports books crying blues

Local sports book directors have a pretty good idea what Mike Tyson felt like Saturday night.

Evander Holyfield, who opened as high as a 25-1 underdog, stopped Tyson on a TKO at 2:23 of the 11th round Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden. In raining a 12-punch onslaught on a dazed and hurt Tyson, Holyfield not only claimed the heavyweight title for the third time, but also sent thousands of happy betters to sports book windows clutching winning tickets.

Rob Terry, race and sports book director at Boulder Station, said no Las Vegas book he knows of managed to escape a beating. To understand how much money it takes to bet a fight down from 25-1 to 5-1 is to understand the beating the books received.

"It was devastating," Terry said. "When you consider the fight opened at 25-1 and closed at 5-1, then you know there was a lot of movement. There was a huge amount of Holyfield money."

"Everybody I've talked to was basically pasted," added Jay Kornegay of the Imperial Palace. "That's a typical Tyson fight because people have to lay such big odds on him. In such one-sided action we always need the big favorite."

Terry said sports books had little choice but to offer the large odds on Tyson, especially considering how easily he had dispatched his four previous opponents while Holyfield struggled in recent fights. Tyson came in off a first-round knockout of Bruce Seldon, while Holyfield was unimpressive against Bobby Czyz.

"It was based on what was seen over the previous four fights," he said. "But it was still pretty steep considering the types of fights he (Tyson) had. The line was put up based on fights against nobodies.

"The public got the better of it in this one for sure. Pure and simple, the sports books took a bath."

Such high odds force the average player to bet the dog, Terry said, because a modest amount on such a heavy favorite as Tyson would return next to nothing.

"There was very little Tyson money," he said. "It was actually typical for one of his fights. It's tough for our customers to lay the big lumber on such short odds. They'd rather take a shot at the big odds."

According to Kornegay, the books took the plunge mainly because smart money action on the favorite, which usually comes in just before fight time when the odds are at their lowest, never materialized. Therefore, there was little Tyson money to offset the big Holyfield payout.

"I'm in disbelief because of that," Kornegay said. "We never got the late money. Usually, the wise guys wait until the end to heavy bet the favorite after the odds drop, but we didn't get it this time.

"Part of the reason is probably that Holyfield is a much more of a public fighter. At the fight probably 90 percent or more of the fans wanted him to win, not just because they were betting, but because they wanted Tyson to lose."

Talk of a rematch began minutes after referee Mitch Halpern stepped in to end Saturday's fight. Kornegay said one sure bet is the odds for Holyfield-Tyson II will be markedly different.

"Of course the odds will be lower now, especially after the way Holyfield beat him," he said. "It wasn't a one-punch fluke win. If they come out again there won't be a 25-1 favorite. It'll probably open at 7-1 or so, close to what this one closed at. There will be adjustments to make. Everybody lives and learns."

Chargers, Lions on MNF

Tonight it's the Lions and Chargers from San Diego on Monday Night Football, a matchup which so far has inspired moderate interest on the home team.

The Lions enter the contest 4-5 after losing at Green Bay last week. The Chargers won at Indianapolis a week ago and stand 5-4. The Chargers are 4-point favorites with an over/under of 43 1/2 for the 6 p.m. kickoff on ABC.

"Right now the betting is on the Chargers," said Terry. "Detroit doesn't play well on grass and on the West Coast -- they've proven that on many occasions. Everything looks to point towards the Chargers."

In contrast, Sam's Town race and sports director Tony Paonessa said while he doesn't have a distinct feeling for the game, he leans towards taking the Lions.

"This one is a tough one to call," Paonessa said. "Both are up-and-down teams. I would probably take the four points and the Lions. Detroit tends to play strong on Monday Night Football. They've had some big wins over teams like San Francisco and Dallas over the last couple of years."

Odds and ends

* BC UPDATE: Following a week-long ride on the emotional roller coaster, Boston College was beaten 48-21 Saturday by Notre Dame, the first game for the Eagles since suspending 13 players for various gambling offenses. At kickoff the Irish were 25-point favorites, and managed to cover by scoring 27 unanswered points to break away from a 21-21 third-quarter tie. The game was taken down by Las Vegas books when gambling rumors surfaced early in the week, but the game was restored Wednesday. "The action was almost nonexistent late in the week but got a little better," said Sam's Town race and sports book director Tony Paonessa. "Many people bet Notre Dame just because they always do, while others did just because they knew BC was in deep trouble."