A boxing fan’s least favorite outcome would be a nightmare for Las Vegas sports books in Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight.
The bout, predicted by promoters to be the most lucrative in boxing history, also will be the most wagered. If the welterweight title unification fight ends in a tie, books will be paying out odds as long as 18-1 and have to return the millions bet on each fighter.
“The draw is deadly, worst-case scenario,” said Jay Rood, sports book director at MGM Resorts International. The MGM Grand is hosting the fight.
Mayweather is a 1-2 favorite at most books, odds that have narrowed since the fight was announced. With about 80 percent of wagers coming in Friday and Saturday, it’s too early to tell how much exposure the books will have on each fighter.
At least $50 million is expected to be wagered in Las Vegas on the bout, including bets on the draw and propositions such as whether each fighter will be knocked down, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com. About $115 million was wagered on this year’s Super Bowl.
At William Hill Plc’s book, 80 percent of the bets and 65 percent of the money have backed Pacquiao. That brought Mayweather from a -280 favorite -- meaning a $280 bet would return a $100 profit, or 5-14 odds -- to -200, or 1-2. Pacquiao was listed at +175, or 7-4. Odds for a draw went from 18-1 down to 8-1.
“It’s the exact opposite to basketball and football, where we always have more money on the favorite,” William Hill sports book manager Nick Bogdanovich said. “We’re hoping for some big bets on Floyd, but the ticket ratio will be 4- or 5-to-1 in favor of Pacquiao, and that will not change.”
A draw would result in a push, meaning sports books would return most of the money bet on Mayweather and Pacquiao, then pay out those who bet on a draw.
Pacquiao has drawn twice in 64 professional bouts. And though it’s an outcome the undefeated Mayweather has never experienced, two of his last three fights were decided by majority decision.
A boxing draw is always a bad result for sports books, though it’s exacerbated this weekend by unprecedented action on the prop bet, MGM’s Rood said. The biggest wager William Hill has taken on the fight was a six-figure bet on the draw, and Rood said his book would take a “significant seven-figure loss” if that were the result.
“If it draws, I’m going to get a call from somebody,” Rood said.
At Sportsbook.ag, the draw is also the worst-case scenario. Early money on Pacquiao has been offset by more recent wagers on Mayweather.
“This will be the largest boxing event in the 18-year history of our company,” Sportsbook spokesman Matt James said. The previous high was the 2007 fight between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.
Saturday is a big sports day elsewhere, with basketball and hockey playoffs, as well as the Kentucky Derby and a full baseball slate that includes the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry. Bogdanovich said having high rollers in Las Vegas for the fight will add a boost to books in other sports.
“The amount of money turning over this weekend will be crazy,” he said.