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Boxing betting: Pick, prediction for Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr.

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 20: Russian Artur Beterbiev and German Adam Deines (not seen) fight in light heavyweight (79.3) at a professional boxing event at Megasport Arena in Moscow, Russia on March 20, 2021.  Beterbiev retains his WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles.  (Photo by Sefa Karakan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Artur Beterbiev is 17-0 with 17 knockouts and is a -900 massive favorite in his bout on Saturday against fellow light heavyweight title holder Joe Smith Jr (not pictured). (Photo by Sefa Karakan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

If you’re a boxing bettor and like to play underdogs, well, good luck this weekend. BetMGM has 10 fights on the board from Thursday to Saturday and the favorite in each of them is at least -400.

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Starting from today’s fights, BetMGM’s favorites are -400, -10000, -2000, -450, -3000, -1400, -2500, -5000, -900 and -900. So if you like underdogs and one of them passes, you have a chance to get some good returns.

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It also means that the chances of you getting such a big win are greatly increased.

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But in the most important fight of the weekend, a unified light heavyweight title fight in New York between IBF-WBC champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr could present a legitimate underdog opportunity.

Beterbiev, who is 17-0 with 17 knockouts, is a -900 favorite against Smith, who is +475.

Smith, who is 28-3 with 22 knockouts, is a tough puncher against a guy who can be hit and has been knocked down twice in his pro career. Jeff Page knocked out Beterbiev in his first fight in 2014 and Callum Johnson knocked him out in his second fight in 2018. Smith by KO/TKO/Decision or DQ +900. This means that a $100 bet makes a profit of $900.

If Smith hits him on the chin, there is no doubt that he can win by knockout. Beterbiev has been injured in other fights, but his boxing skills are better than he is credited with. Sometimes he is in attacking mode and gets caught, but his fight at the 2012 Olympics against Oleksandr Usyk showed that he can box.

A master boxer of genius level, Usyk won that fight 17-13 on the Olympic scoring system, but Beterbiev was far from unbeatable and was in the fight.

Knowing that Smith has range and power, Beterbiev is likely to be more vigilant defensively than against others. Beterbiev by KO/TKO/TD or DQ is -250, so if you bet $250 and Beterbiev wins by KO or TKO, you will make a profit of $100.

In total, the fighters have 39 knockouts out of 45 victories. Smith was stopped once in their three losses to Eddie Caminero in 2010, so 40 of the 45 fights they’ve been in as pros have ended in the distance.

BetMGM offers a variety of bets on this fight, including bets on group rounds. So, for example, you can bet on Beterbiev winning rounds 1-4 and getting +450, or on him winning rounds 5-8 and getting +220, or on winning rounds 9-12 and getting +260.

I think Smith is a legitimate challenge, but Beterbiev has better pedigree and more fame. Smith has never met anyone who hits as hard as Beterbiev. But I have no chance of Beterbiev winning.

Here’s an interesting twist. If you’re betting that the fight will last less than nine full rounds, that’s -125. If you’re betting that he’ll go nine or more rounds, that’s -110.

I’ll play for nine full rounds or more and put -110. I do think Beterbiev will win this at the finish line and wear Smith out, but Smith is not very good and it will take Beterbiev some time to figure it out.

Given this bet, I’m betting two units on Beterbiev’s victory in rounds 7-12, which is +120. So I will risk $200 for a $240 profit.

My other recommendation would be just as a flyer and more for fun. Beterbiev, who won within 60 seconds, +5000, and Smith, who won within 60 seconds, +20000.

Given Smith’s aggression and strength, I’ll give Smith $50 to win over 60 if he hits the mower early. If that happens, I’ll make $10,000 and I’ll be more than happy to accept any other losses I incur.


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