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The betting options for boxing are slim this weekend, and even slimmer if you’re looking to put a wager on the most talented boxer in action.
Super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, who is 16-0 with 16 first-round knockouts in his young career, will fight veteran Demond Nicholson in the co-main event of a Top Rank card Saturday on ESPN in Kissimmee, Florida.
It’s almost impossible to bet on Berlanga simply to win because you’d have to lay -5000. Who wants to risk $50,000 for the potential of a $1,000 payoff?
And if you simply think you want to play Berlanga by knockout in the eight-round bout, the odds aren’t much in your favor. Berlanga is -2000 to win by KO/TKO/DQ or technical decision. So that means you’d “only” have to risk $20,000 to make a $1,000 profit. Again, for me at least, that’s a hard pass.
Finally, if you think he’s going to keep the first-round KO streak alive, the price is more reasonable, but he’s still incredibly at -125 to win by first-round KO.
Nicholson is 23-3-1 with 20 KOs, but perhaps most importantly, he’s been stopped in two of his three losses, most recently by Jesse “Hard Work” Hart. So is it possible, or even likely, that Berlanga stops Nicholson? Absolutely.
The problem again here is the number. It’s much more palatable to lay just $1,250 in order to make a $1,000 profit, but first-round knockouts are so rare in boxing, and Nicholson is a veteran with a good chin. He’s aware of the streak, to be sure, and his plan has to be to try to get the fight to go longer to test Berlanga’s endurance.
So to me, it just seems unlikely that Berlanga gets him out again. Thus, the only options left if you want to bet on Berlanga are to pick the round. If it’s past the first, you get plus money no matter which round you pick, but it’s almost a crap shoot to guess a round. At BetMGM, the odds start at +300 for a KO in Round 2 and up to +5000 for a KO in the eighth.
I’m going to pass betting on this one, but if I were going to play, I’d take Berlanga by KO in the fourth round. He’s +300 in the second and +800 in the third. In the fourth, that jumps to +1400, so I’d make a $14,000 profit with a $1,000 bet if Berlanga wins by fourth-round stoppage.
Why do I like the fourth instead of, say, the third or the fifth (which is +2000)? Honestly, it’s an educated guess and nothing more. That’s why I don’t want to bet it.
My rationale, though, is this: Nicholson was first finished almost 6 1/2 years ago, still early in his career, in the sixth round of a scheduled six-rounder by Lekan Byfield. Then, nearly three years ago on April 28, 2018, he was stopped in the seventh of a 10-rounder by Hart.
Hart knocked him down twice in the third and once more in the seventh before the bout was stopped. Since then, Nicholson has won five in a row.
He seems at his peak now and is in his physical prime. I think we can ignore the Byfield KO loss because it was so long ago and less than two years into Nicholson’s pro career. The Hart fight is more illustrative, but it’s still three years ago.
Nicholson is better now, and in presumably better shape. Berlanga clearly has the power to take him out, and if he catches Nicholson with a clean shot, Nicholson will be out for the 10-count.
But Nicholson figures to fight defensively in the early going to try to frustrate Berlanga. While undoubtedly trainer Andre Rozier anticipates that and had sparring partners try to frustrate Berlanga that way in the gym, he’s never faced that in a fight.
So if Nicholson has some success at that early, I think we’ll see Berlanga be patient and his punch output will drop early as he tries to methodically break Nicholson down. By the midpoint, he should be comfortable, which is why I see the fourth as the likely round for the finish.
Berlanga does have the power to end this in the first, but Nicholson is far better than anyone Berlanga has faced to this stage.
Risk only what you can afford to lose with a smile, and I’d recommend Berglanga by TKO in the fourth. But if it’s the third or the fifth, remember, I’m sitting this one out.
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