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Pricing out wagers on Pacquiao-Cotto


Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao strikes a pose Tuesday at the MGM Grand, where he’ll face Miguel Cotto on Saturday.

Ending With Firepower

Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto and their camps share their final thoughts leading up to the final major boxing match of the decade.

Pacquiao, Cotto press conference

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman poses with Manny Pacquiao, left, of the Philippines and WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico after presenting them with ceremonial keys to the city during a news conference at the MGM Grand Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009.  Pacquiao and Cotto will fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday. Launch slideshow »


  • When: 3 p.m. today (doors open 1 p.m.)
  • Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • To attend: Open to the public

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I would not go so far as to call the betting line mispriced in Saturday’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand, particularly as it continues to drift higher in favor of Pacquiao.

Still, I am comfortable making a case for Pacquiao in the welterweight title bout at the Grand Garden Arena.

First, a look at a selection of betting prices around town:

After opening as a minus 250 favorite, Pacquiao has been bet up to as high as minus 330 (risk $3.30 to net $1), the line Thursday afternoon at the MGM, the fight’s host hotel, and all related properties. Cotto was a plus 250 underdog (risk $1 to net $2.50).

Pacquiao was still minus 285 at all Lucky’s sports books in Nevada, with Cotto at plus 245.

The South Point, Palms and related sports books had the line minus 300/plus 250 in favor of Pacquiao.

Several books — including Leroy’s, the Golden Nugget and all Harrah’s properties — had the line minus 300/plus 220. The Boyd books had it minus 300/plus 240.

Note that the lines at Lucky’s books and South Point are more bettor-friendly than elsewhere. At Lucky’s, for example, gamblers can find a better price on the fight than the one offered at Leroy’s, the Nugget, Harrah’s or Boyd — regardless of which boxer they like to win the bout. This underscores the importance of shopping around before placing a bet.

The over/under on the fight stands at 9 1/2 rounds at most spots in Las Vegas, with a premium on the “under,” or “won’t go 9 1/2,” as it is sometimes phrased. At Lucky’s, for instance, the “won’t go” is listed at minus 145, with the “will go” at plus 125.

The MGM joints have the will go/won’t go at 10 full rounds (the fight is scheduled for 12), minus 145 on the under, or “won’t go.”

In pick-the-result proposition betting, the Harrah’s books had Pacquiao to win by knockout at even money, a more attractive price than the minus 120 to minus 145 elsewhere.

The odds on Pacquiao by decision ranged from 9-5 (MGM) to 3-1 (Cal Neva properties).

The odds on Cotto by knockout didn’t vary much, ranging from 13-5 to 3-1.

The odds on Cotto by decision ranged from 4-1 (Harrah’s) to 9-1 (Cal Neva).

The price on a draw was as low as 14-1 (MGM) and as high as 25-1 (Cal Neva).

As always, odds are subject to change.

By way of comparison, Pacquiao was favored in his victory against Ricky Hatton by anywhere from minus 200 to minus 270. Pacquiao beat Oscar De La Hoya as an underdog of about 2-1.

Cotto was a minus 340 favorite in his split-decision victory against Joshua Clottey. Before his controversial loss to Antonio Margarito, Cotto had been bet up from a minus 170 favorite to a minus 270 favorite.

Now, the handicap:

I come down on the side of Pacquiao in most of the fundamentals. Pacquiao has an edge in hand speed and foot speed and packs more than enough power to do some damage to Cotto when he catches him. Pacquiao’s defense has improved substantially in recent years. He figures to be quick and agile enough to prevent Cotto from landing at will.

With Freddie Roach running his corner, I give Pacquiao an edge in the areas of training and developing a game plan.

Many of those factors are likely built into the betting line, of course.

A couple of intangibles could also favor Pacquiao, though. Cotto, with his naturally larger frame, could be a bit drained as he works his way down to the 145-pound catch weight for the fight. And Cotto could have trouble with cuts and the resultant flow of blood, especially in the area of his left eye, if Pacquiao gets through with some hard right hooks in the early to middle rounds.

I’m on record predicting Pacquiao to win by decision, but for betting purposes a straight win wager on Pacquiao is the way to play it.

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