What a ‘Vegas Odds’ Boxing Bet Really Means

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I am often hesitant to lay much of a price in a fight between two extremely capable people – especially one that is likely to go the distance – because I have been around the sport of boxing long enough to know that anything can happen. And that includes judging that is within the control of absolutely no one except the judges themselves. Some very strange things take place, as those that are also fight aficionados have undoubtedly seen.

When you place a bet against the Vegas odds on boxing, it is different than a bet on football or baseball or basketball, in that if someone on your “side” has an off-day, that’s pretty much all she wrote.

There are a lot of considerations that go into handicapping this sport, and there’s a lot of information that might be known to some people, but not to the general public. I have uncovered any number of things out of training camps that would have had a material effect on the betting activity of a particular fight – if they had become known.

But let’s talk about some things you CAN know, such as how to interpret the odds on a fight.

We’ll use the lightweight title fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez as an example.

We pick this frozen moment in time to find Vegas odds like this at one outlet:

Vasyl Lomachenko -355
Teofimo Lopez +285

Over 10.5 Rounds -185
Under 10.5 Rounds +155

You may be surprised to know that a lot of people really don’t know what these numbers mean. And if YOU don’t know, it would probably surprise you even more, eh?

When people talk about what the Vegas odds are on a fight, they are actually TWO numbers. One of those is the price on the favorite; the other one is the price on the underdog.

In this example, Lomachenko is the favorite. That’s what the minus (-) sign means. Let’s make these numbers relative to a hundred dollars. So what this says is that you have to “lay” $355 to win a profit of $100. That’s your risk.

On the other side, Lopez is the underdog, which is what you get from the plus (+) sign. When you bet $100 on him, you can make a profit of $285 if he wins.

And if you want your Vegas odds equivalent to a dollar, just move the decimal point two places to the left. This should be simple enough.

But we’re not finished yet.

What’s your “statement” here?

Well, it comes from your opinion about the percentage chances of winning on each side.

When the number is -355 on Lomachenko, that means he has a 78% chance of winning. You derive that number by taking 355 and putting it into a fraction on top of 455 (which is 355 +100)

So it’s like this:

Percentage = Price / (100 + Price)

And then we kind of go in another direction for the underdog:

Percentage = 100 / (100 + Price)

So with Lopez it would be 100 / 385 = 26%.

Looking at these numbers, if you were of the opinion that Lomachenko had a chance to win that, in your mind, was greater than 78%, he would have value for you.

Conversely, if you thought that Lopez was better than a 26% possibility to win the fight, you would find value in the Vegas odds for a wager on him.

You’ve go through the same thing with the “total rounds” proposition. The “over” would be 185 / 285 = 64.9%, which, for convenience, we can round up to 65%, while the “under” is 100 / 255 = 39.2%, which can be rounded down to 32%.

Let your opinion carry the rest.

And by the way, I certainly hope our faithful don’t make the mistake some people do. When you see “10.5 Rounds,” that means the 1:30 mark of the ELEVENTH round.

Just thought I should point that out.


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