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

·Combat columnist
·4 min read
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 20: Russian Artur Beterbiev and German Adam Deines (not seen) fight in their light heavyweight (79.3) bout 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 Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Artur Beterbiev is 17-0 with 17 knockouts and is a massive -900 favorite in his fight Saturday against fellow light heavyweight title holder Joe Smith Jr. (not pictured). (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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

Starting with today’s bouts, the favorites at BetMGM are -400, -10000, -2000, -450, -3000, -1400, -2500, -5000, -900 and -900. So if you like underdogs, and one comes through, you have a chance to get a pretty good payoff.

It also means the odds are stacked heavily against you getting that big payoff.

But in the biggest fight of the weekend, the unified light heavyweight title fight in New York between IBF-WBC champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champ Joe Smith Jr. might present a legitimate opportunity for underdog players.

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

Smith, who is 28-3 with 22 knockouts, is a hard puncher going against a guy who can be hit and has been knocked down twice in his pro career. Jeff Page knocked Beterbiev down in the first in 2014 and Callum Johnson dropped him in the second in 2018. Smith by KO/TKO/Technical Decision or DQ is +900. That means a $100 wager earns a profit of $900.

If Smith hits him on the chin, there is no doubt he can win by knockout. Beterbiev has been hurt in other fights, but he does have better boxing skills than he has been given credit for having. Sometimes, he’s on attack mode and gets caught, but his fight in the 2012 Olympics against Oleksandr Usyk showed that he can box.

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

Knowing that Smith has range and power, Beterbiev likely will be more alert defensively than he has been against others. Beterbiev by KO/TKO/Technical Decision or DQ is -250, meaning if you bet $250 and Beterbiev wins KO or TKO, you’ll make a $100 profit.

Combined, the fighters have 39 knockouts among their 45 wins. Smith was stopped once in his three losses, by Eddie Caminero in 2010 so 40 of the 45 fights they’ve been involved in as pros have finished inside the distance.

BetMGM has a slew of proposition bets on this fight, including round group betting. So, for instance, you could bet on Beterbiev winning in Rounds 1-4 and get +450 or him winning in Rounds 5-8 and getting +220 or in Rounds 9-12 and get +260.

I believe Smith puts up a legitimate challenge, but Beterbiev has a better pedigree and more pop. Smith has never faced anyone who hits as remotely hard as Beterbiev. But there is zero chance I’m laying 9-1 on Beterbiev to win.

The over-under is interesting, though. If you bet the fight goes less than nine full rounds, it’s -125. If you bet it goes nine rounds or more, it’s -110.

I will play that it goes nine full rounds or more and lay the -110. I do think Beterbiev wins this by finish and will wear Smith down, but Smith is a handful and it’s going to take Beterbiev a while to figure him out.

Given that bet, I’m going to lay two units on Beterbiev to win in Rounds 7-12, which is +120. So I’ll risk $200 to hopefully make a $240 profit.

My other recommendation will be just as a flyer and more for fun. Beterbiev to win within 60 seconds is +5000 while Smith to win within 60 seconds is +20000.

Given Smith’s aggression and his power, I’ll drop $50 on Smith to win within 60 in the event he lands a haymaker at the beginning. If that happens, it would earn me $10,000 and I’ll more than happily accept those other losses I would suffer.