At quite a few of the sportsbooks in the 14 states in which legal sports wagering is up and running, Saturday night’s Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder heavyweight boxing title rematch is a pick ’em.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, operational in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana, neither fighter is an underdog, as Wilder sits at -110 and Fury at -106 as of three days before the fight. The BetMGM app, operational on computers, phones, and tablets in New Jersey and West Virginia, sees the boxers dead even, at -110 apiece. FOX Bet, a digital option available in NJ and PA, can’t pick a favorite either, with both fighters listed at a discounted price of -105.
At the host hotel for the fight in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand, the fight opened up as a pick ’em, the same as its sister sportsbooks in Jersey and West Virginia.
But it isn’t a pick ’em anymore. At last look, Wilder had moved to a -125 (bet $125 to win $100) favorite at MGM and Fury was listed as a +105 (bet $100 to win $105) underdog.
“We’ve taken half a dozen five-figure bets so far on this event, and five of those six have been on Wilder,” Jeff Stoneback, the director of trading operations for MGM Resorts, told US Bets on Tuesday. “The largest bet we’ve taken has been on Fury — that was a $40,000 bet. But the other five-figure bets have all been on Wilder. And as of right now, we’ve got twice as many tickets on Wilder as we do on Fury and the money right now is about 2-to-1 on Wilder also.”
Some of the digital sportsbooks far east of Vegas are reflecting similar action. For example, the books managed by Kambi, such as DraftKings Sportsbook and BetRivers, show Wilder at -120 and Fury at +108.
That odds variance may represent mere pennies on the dollar, but it adds up to a lot of pennies on one of those five-figure wagers. The question now for bettors is whether the odds will continue to widen in Wilder’s direction or are poised to swing back toward Fury, the man most observers believe deserved to win their first fight.
What Fury-Wilder I means for Fury-Wilder II
Making an informed wager on Saturday’s rematch starts with understanding what happened in the first bout between Fury and Wilder, on Dec. 1, 2018, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Rarely do the 6’9” Fury and the 6’7” Wilder have to engage in an eye-to-eye staredown with opponents during the referee’s instructions, but they did in this atypical meeting of towering, awkward, undefeated heavyweights. Fury’s relative tactical ability and elusiveness left Wilder missing punches in a manner befitting his last name, but the “Bronze Bomber’s” power remained a constant looming threat, even as Fury appeared to box his way to a lead on the scorecards.
The punching power stopped looming and started booming in the ninth round, when a crouched-down Fury got clipped with a right hand high on the head, sending him to the canvas. That knockdown was easily shaken off. The one in Round 12 was not. Fury’s rise from a flush right-left combination inspired Undertaker GIFs and Rocky-Apollo comparisons.
What looked heading into the 12th like a certain decision win for Fury and then, a minute later, like a certain knockout win for Wilder, ultimately wound up a controversial 12-round draw.
The main takeaways were that Fury is the far better boxer, Wilder is the far more dangerous puncher, Fury is tough and determined, Wilder never loses faith in himself, and the aggressive American apparently gets more love from the judges than the crafty Brit.
Both have fought twice since and underlined their reputations, with Wilder scoring a pair of knockouts — one in which he’d arguably lost every round to that point — and Fury winning easily in a mismatch before grinding out a grueling win with a nasty cut. Wilder, 34, is now 42-0-1 with a ludicrous 41 knockouts, while Fury, 31, is 29-0-1 with 20 stoppages.
Immediately after the first fight concluded, sportsbooks posted odds for a then-unsigned rematch, with Fury close to a -150 favorite. But since he struggled in September against Otto Wallin, since he changed trainers the following month, since he spoke of planning to come into the rematch heavy and gunning for a knockout, the oddsmaking wind has blown in the other direction.
The Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight is believed to be the most-bet boxing match, in terms of legal handle, ever, and Fury-Wilder II won’t catch it. But Saturday’s heavyweight showdown, which most experts consider the biggest fight in the division in America since Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson, could generate the highest handle in the sport since that 2017 boxing-MMA crossover event.
“The early action has been much more than I anticipated on this fight,” Stoneback said. “Usually with these fights, 90% of the money comes in on the weekend, but we do have significant action already. It is shaping up to be a heavily bet fight and it may possibly [be the biggest since Mayweather-McGregor].”
The near-pick-’em odds certainly help on that front, and Stoneback says usually the books are fairly balanced on a fight like this and don’t end up needing one fighter or the other to win in order to come out ahead.
At this point, though, they would appear to need some Fury money. Will they get it? The British fans tend to roll into Vegas late in the week. There’s also the potential for Friday’s weigh-in — and how doughy Fury’s physique appears — to influence opinions.
“Honestly, I’m not sure where this fight’s going to end up,” Stoneback said. “Since the early money has come in on Wilder, people may come in now and see Tyson’s a little bit of an underdog and they get some plus money, +105, it could have good two-way action. I would not be surprised if the fight did go back to its original opening price of a pick, or even if Fury ended up a small favorite once the fight goes off.
“Right now it’s a 2-1 ratio on tickets for Wilder, but when the weekend comes that could flip very easily.”
After the bell rings …
Maximizing wins on Fury-Wilder II doesn’t just mean picking the right side; it means betting at the right time. For Wilder backers, that time might already have passed. But there’s a catch.
Thanks to the availability of in-game (or in this case, in-fight) betting, some juicy Wilder underdog odds might be yet to come. Imagine a fight that looks like the first Fury bout or Wilder’s most recent match, in which he fell behind before erasing Luis Ortiz with one punch:
Deontay Wilder KNOCKOUT in Slow motion 🔥🔥🔥
— MMA India (@MMAIndiaShow) November 24, 2019
If Wilder loses the early rounds, his betting odds figure to grow longer — but will his chances really have decreased significantly? There is a legitimate case to be made that the Olympic bronze medalist from Alabama hits harder with one punch than any man who has ever laced up gloves. He has proven more than capable of making the depth of the hole he digs for himself irrelevant.
Logic dictates that if Wilder wins it will probably be by knockout and if Fury prevails it will probably be by decision, and the odds are in line with that thinking. Wilder by KO/TKO/DQ is anywhere from +115 to +150 (except at FOX Bet, where that outcome currently has a boost to +175). Fury on points is between +138 and +170 (but again, FOX Bet is boosting it to +200).
Fury by KO/TKO/DQ at a high of +500 is probably the worst bet on the board, given that “The Gypsy King” isn’t a heavy hitter and Wilder has never been knocked down as a pro. Wilder by decision, meanwhile, is intriguing. It opened as high as +1200 and can still be found at +1000 on FanDuel. It’s not the most likely outcome. But considering it came one poorly scored round away from happening the first time, there might be some value at 10/1 or greater.
One thing to watch for when betting this — or any — boxing match is whether you’re getting a “no draw bet” line. For example, FanDuel has those -110/-106 prices, but if the fight is a draw, your moneyline bet is returned. FOX Bet looks like a relative steal at -105 either way, but there’s also a +2200 price on a draw, and if history repeats on Saturday, a wager on either Fury or Wilder would be a win for the house.
Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank