Boxing betting fans will have to decide if it's kosher to bet against a budding rabbi when Yuri Foreman risks his WBA middleweight championship against Miguel Cotto before HBO cameras in New York's Yankee Stadium, June 5.
Foreman (28-0, eight knockouts), who is studying to become a rabbi, is the first Israeli to win a professional boxing title. Nevertheless, despite his championship credentials and undefeated record, Foreman will enter the ring as a +200 underdog (bet $100 to win $200) against Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs), the former two-time welterweight champion who, despite moving up to 154 pounds for the first time, has been established as the -275 favorite (bet $275 to win $100).
Foreman, the latest in a long line of distinguished Jewish boxers that includes lightweight champions Benny Leonard and Barney Ross, light heavyweight champion Maxie Rosenbloom, and heavyweight champion Max Baer, is hoping that a big ethnic turnout in the Bronx ballpark will give him the home stadium advantage. But Cotto, who was born in Puerto Rico, also should have solid fan support, as well.
Both Foreman and Cotto last fought on Nov. 14. Foreman captured the WBA junior middleweight title via unanimous decision from Daniel Santos while the Cotto lasted into the 12th round against pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao before losing via TKO.
Boxing betting enthusiasts will have to decide whether Cotto, who packs a knockout punch and has beaten the likes of Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and Joshua Clottey, but is moving up in weight and is noticeably smaller than Foreman, can impose his will on a boxer who is in his prime and, while he lacks punching prowess, is very busy in the ring and motivated.
Former junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, who is friends with Foreman and lost a unanimous decision to Cotto several years ago, seems to prefer the underdog.
"I'm curious to see what Cotto has left after the very physical losses he's had, and even the physical wins he's had in the last few years," Malignaggi told BoxingScene.com. "Yuri has a style that could trouble him because of the movement. Yuri's also a bigger man so will Cotto's damaging punches be so damaging to a bigger man? And I also know Yuri's a tough guy. He's not a guy who's just going to lie down and die for you, so it's an interesting fight."
Of course, there are more ways to bet the fight than just choosing the winner. As usual, in addition to side wagering, many sportsbooks also are offering a series of proposition bets on the scheduled 12-round title showdown. In one, gamblers choose which of five possible outcomes will occur. A Cotto victory by knockout, TKO or disqualification is +160; Cotto by decision is +175; Foreman by KO, TKO or DQ is +650; Foreman by decision is +300; and a 12-round draw is worth +2500.
Cotto is a big puncher but Foreman is not, adding intrigue to a proposition on how long the fight will last. Actually, boxing betting practitioners have a quartet of over/under choices here: The over/under for 8 1/2 rounds is -220/+160; the over/under for 9 1/2 rounds is -180/+130; the over/under for 10 1/2 rounds is -130/-110; and the over/under for 12 full rounds is -120/-120. Just pick the distance and price that suits your handicapping efforts.
There's also a group rounds prop on when the fight will end. Cotto earning a decision is +175 while Foreman winning on points is +300. You also can bet on Cotto stopping Foreman in rounds 1-6, which pays +450, or rounds 7-12, which is worth +350. It seems far more unlikely that the lighter-hitting Foreman will win via stoppage so the price is +1400 for rounds 1-6 and +900 for rounds 7-12.
Boxing betting fans who like to go for the knockout against their sportsbooks also can try to pick which fighter wins in exactly what round. This seems more hunch than handicapping but the payoffs are large for those who can sift through the tea leaves. For example, Foreman by knockout in round 1 or round 12 (but not either round 1 or 12) is worth +8000. A Foreman KO or TKO in any of rounds 2-11 is +6600.
Cotto by KO in round 1 is worth +2500 while Cotto by stoppage in rounds 2, 3, 4 or 12 is good for a +2000 return. Choose round 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 and earn +1600 for your clairvoyance.
That seems like enough boxing betting options for even the most demanding of gamblers.