Pacquiao-Thurman Sports Betting Preview: Examining The Rare Fave-Dog Flip-Flop

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Is 40 the new 30? If you’re talking about the sports betting odds for Saturday night’s Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman welterweight pay-per-view boxing showdown, the answer is yes.

The 30-year-old fighter, Thurman, was favored when the fight was first announced, but the odds have swung in the other direction, leaving the 40-year-old fighter, Pacquiao, in the position of betting favorite heading into Friday’s weigh-in.

This almost never happens in a major boxing match. Most of the time, the odds aren’t close enough to begin with for it to happen. A true 50-50 fight like this at the sport’s highest levels is rare.

The exact numbers varied from book to book, but Thurman opened as about a -140 favorite and Pacquiao a +120 ’dog, and here are the odds now at four of New Jersey’s top mobile sportsbooks, FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, and BetStars:

 ThurmanPacquiaoDraw
FanDuel+115-140+1300
DraftKings+128-150+1400
PointsBet+133-164+1600
FOX Bet+120-150+1800

The draw opened between +1800 and +2000 at most sportsbooks, and the fact that it’s been bet down tells you all you need to know about how close fight fans expect this bout to be.

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Bios, backgrounds, and bold bets

Even at age 40, with 70 professional fights (against the toughest collective roll call of opponents of any fighter this century) under his belt, Pacquiao still seems to have something left in the tank. The Filipino senator was dominant his last two times out, against Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse, two solid names, though both stylistically suitable and past their best days (despite being younger than “Pac-Man”). Pacquiao is not the phenom he once was, and like most older boxers he fights in spurts, but he’s matured into a well-rounded technician with underrated defense who can still strike quickly.

Thurman is undefeated through 29 fights and certainly the best opponent Pacquiao has faced since at least Tim Bradley in 2016, though the man known as “One Time” has only fought one time in the past 28 months. He was sidelined by elbow surgery and struggled to a surprising degree against journeyman Josesito Lopez in January. Is the rust all gone now? And is Thurman, who eked by on coulda-gone-either-way decisions over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in his two biggest fights, a truly elite fighter even when at his best?

Adding intrigue to a fight that wasn’t lacking for it, Thurman recently revealed that he planned to bet on himself to knock Pacquiao out in the first or second round, with $10k riding on each longshot wager.

“I don’t want to bet straight up. I want to bet on the KO. Gotta bet on the KO,” he told TMZ.

If you want to put your money where Thurman’s mouth is, you can get +5000 on either individual round at BetStars, or give yourself both rounds together at a return of +4000 at FanDuel. (The shop to avoid for this particular avenue is PointsBet, which has Thurman KO 1 at +3300 and KO 2 at +3000.)

Thurman by early knockout, however, just isn’t very realistic. Pacquiao is as experienced and durable as they come. In fact, either man by knockout is a bit of a long shot. That’s part of why the draw bet has been so popular; this fight is likely to go the distance.

All four of the NJ sites in the table at the top of this article have odds on whether the fight will or won’t go the 12-round distance. “Yes” is between -275 and -286. “No” is between +190 and +205.

Who and how

Perhaps the best way to approach betting on this fight is to pick both a winner and a method of victory. Here are the best odds for each of the four options:

  • Thurman by decision: +200 (FanDuel and PointsBet)
  • Thurman by KO/TKO/DQ: +600 (BetStars)
  • Pacquiao by decision: +150 (DraftKings, PointsBet, and BetStars)
  • Pacquiao by KO/TKO/DQ: +500 (PointsBet, thanks to a temporary “booster” offer)

Of course, no boxing betting adventure would be complete without attempting to factor in what the judges will do in a close fight. (Again, there’s a reason the draw bet has been popular.)

Pacquiao is perceived as a darling of the judges and a cash cow, but he was on the wrong side of probably the most controversial Vegas decision of the 2000s, the first fight with Bradley, and his time as a money-churning attraction in Sin City is surely nearing its conclusion.

The judges reportedly assigned for tomorrow night are the same ones who scored Pacquiao’s fight with Broner: Dave Moretti, Glenn Feldman, and Tim Cheatham. If anything, they might have given Broner a little too much credit, scoring it 9-3, 8-4, and 8-4 in rounds, respectively.

In a fight like this, it’s hard to say there’s a right or wrong side for a bettor to take. The only truly wrong move is to not shop around and get the best price. On a Thurman victory, that’s at PointsBet. On a Pacquiao win, that’s at FanDuel. And on the draw, that’s at BetStars.

It’s a tough choice in this fight between the guy who’s 30 and the guy who’s 40. But it should never be tough to decide between +300 and +400.

Photo by Joe Camporeale / USA Today Sports

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Eric Raskin

Eric is a veteran writer, editor, and podcaster in the sports and gaming industries. He was the editor-in-chief of the poker magazine All In for nearly a decade, is the author of the book The Moneymaker Effect, and has contributed to such outlets as ESPN.com, Grantland.com, and Playboy.

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