Irish bookmakers could lose as much as €10 million if Conor McGregor defeats Floyd Mayweather
Irish bookmakers could lose upwards of €10 million if Conor McGregor defeats Floyd Mayweather in his professional boxing debut in Las Vegas this weekend.
McGregor was first priced by Boylesports at 12/1 before the fight was announced, before moving into 17/2 when the bout was confirmed in June, and is now as low as 7/2.
The dramatic drop in odds for Irishman has been attributed to a number of factors; his sparring sessions with Paulie Malignaggi, his decorated history of delivering on his predictions in the UFC, and the bout's switch to 8oz gloves, as well as unbridled Irish patriotism.
"It's going to be the biggest boxing event - turnover wise - in boxing history," said Leon Blanche, Head of Communications at Boylesports.
"We have never seen an event like this. Over 90% of the bets on the outright market are all for Conor. This is unprecedented.
"I think a lot of people are listening into some of his predictions that he's going to finish him inside of four rounds. A lot of Irish people with their patriotic support are backing McGregor.
"A lot of people would back him when he was fighting in MMA, and some backed his predictions which turned out to be right. He has a bunch of loyal supporters and we think that will continue.
"A lot of people are also backing him because of the switch to 8oz gloves. A lot of people are looking at it that he'll have an advantage with the 8oz gloves.
"People saw the sparring he had with Malignaggi and I suppose they give him a chance. He has the height advantage. He has the reach advantage. He has age on his side.
"He's facing one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time, but he is uncomfortable against southpaws and maybe, just maybe, if he connects with one of his punches, Mayweather hasn't felt power like that before."
Mayweather has fought 26 of his 49 career wins with 8oz gloves, however that fact, along with a myraid of other glaring differences between the two fighters, has not seemed to put any sort of dent into the volume of bets behind McGregor.
An industry source told the Independent.ie that there is no real precedent to a market like this, but that the closest comparison that can be made to what we're seeing with this fight would be when Ireland play at a major sporting tournament, where punters back Ireland blindly regardless of the price, but even still the volume is not as one sided as what we're seeing with the Mayweather-McGregor fight.
"When we first came up with our odds of 9/1, we thought we were way too short on McGregor," a source said.
"We obviously expected Mayweather to win, but even in Vegas they are seeing 90% of the bets are on McGregor, which is really unusual because he's the outsider.
"Usually you'd expect if someone was 5/1, and then the favourite was 1/5, 1/6, you would expect to see the pure quantity of bets to mainly be on the favourite.
"The underdog you'd expect a lot less volume but then the payout to be quite similar. What makes this unique in a lot of the bets are on the underdog and that has put bookmakers in a position where they have a really skewed book, so the payout is all on one side.
"They have to make a decision then that if we really think McGregor is 8/1, then in theory they should be happy to lay that money. In theory, they should be happy to take all this money if they think McGregor is really an 8/1, because that's what bookmaking is all aobut.
"But then there comes a certain point where you have to shorten the price up to offset liability. That's why he's down to as low as 7/2, because of the amount of volume behind McGregor. Bookmakers are starting to hedge their bets and are starting to offload liability."
The volume behind McGregor, which accounts for 90% of total bets with most Irish betting companies, is largely from recreational punters, whereas the 'smart money', those bets with high stakes, are on Mayweather.
A lot of that action behind Mayweather will flood into the market just before the fight, when punters feel Mayweather's price will be at it's highest while McGregor's continues to shorten, due to the influx of recreational punters who typically bet on boxing matches on the day of the fight.
Bookmakers are happy to take the large bets on Mayweather in this fight because it offsets their liability from the amount of bets taken on McGregor.
Paddypower for instance, have already paid out €275,00 on Mayweather, which was accompanied by a provocative advertisement captioned 'Always bet on black'.
In essence, bookmakers have dramatically shortened odds due to unprecedented market demand and to offset liability, and not necessarily because there has been a switch to 8oz gloves or because McGregor dropped a retired Paulie Malignaggi in training.