Manny Pacquiao vs Antonio Margarito

To say that we at Sportsbook are looking forward to Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring this Saturday at Cowboys Stadium outside of Dallas is quite an understatement because “Pac Man” drives the betting needle for boxing more than anyone outside of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

We expect Pacquiao’s WBC light middleweight title fight against Antonio Margarito to be the most-bet boxing match ever at Sportsbook between two fighters who aren’t residents of the United States. Of course, had the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight ever been agreed to, we fully expected that to smash every boxing betting record.

Despite the fact that Pacquiao is the acknowledged pound-for-pound king and is the bigger name, Margarito should be the crowd favorite in Texas as he hails from neighboring Mexico. We certainly expect the Latin American market to wager heavily on him. And a win would help erase the “cheater” stigma that has been attached to Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) ever since he was caught with illegally padded wraps before his fight against Shane Mosley in January 2009 – that earned Margarito a year suspension and this is his first fight in the U.S. since. He has always denied knowledge of the wraps, pointing the finger at his former trainer.

Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) hasn’t fought since beating Joshua Clottey by unanimous decision back in March at Cowboys Stadium. There are many Pacquiao fights on our list of Top 10 most-bet bouts ever – for example his 2008 matchup against Oscar De La Hoya is No. 3 on our all-time list of boxing handle. But that wasn’t a good night for the book as it was the biggest loss we have ever taken on a boxing match as the underdog Pacquiao pummeled the much-bigger De La Hoya to the point the Golden Boy retired on his stool after the eighth round. Saturday’s fight will be a Top 10 all-time bout and could creep into our Top 5 despite the fact Pacquiao is such a big favorite at -500.

We have had odds up for this fight since July, when we installed Pacquiao as a -525 favorite. It just dropped to its current -500 last week as we have seen increased action on Margarito but also because many of the parlays that were linked with Pacquiao have already busted. So right now we have small exposure on Margarito. But I would expect the number on Pacquiao to likely get bigger, however, as he generally tends to get a majority of the fight-day action. Overall, this fight hasn’t seen as much line movement as most big-ticket bouts do.

One prop that bettors are crushing right now is on the over 9.5 rounds (+110), with an almost 80 percent lean. We opened that prop earlier this summer at the current +110 number but it was immediately bet down to +125 by the sharp bettors. The line continued to see one-sided action and moved all the way to +110, where it finally started to see buy back on the under, so we currently are exposed on the over. It appears bettors believe that Margarito is just too big for Pacquiao and that Pacquiao won’t be able to knock him out or wear him down physically like he did De La Hoya.

It’s expected that Margarito could be as much as 15 pounds over the catchweight of 150 pounds by the time the Sportsbook bell rings (it’s common for fighters to add weight following the weigh-in). And no one expects Margarito to be able to KO Pacquiao. If you are looking for a comparison, both fighters have recently battled Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao beat Cotto by a 12th-round TKO last November while Margarito beat Cotto by an 11th-round TKO in July 2008 in his final fight before the Mosley funny business.

Article By Richard Gardner, the sportsbook manager for