Surge of ‘Square’ Bets on Conor McGregor

By Togorashi

By Jim Murphy

According to bookmakers in Nevada and London as well as some of my ‘sources’ at other sportsbooks they’ve seen a strong surge of betting on Conor McGregor over Floyd Mayweather in the early going. That’s presumably why prices on Mayweather have dropped from -1100 or higher when the fight was still in the ‘hypothetical’ stage to as low as -600 at some UK books. I say ‘presumably’ because without access to a bookmakers actual financial position on the fight (which you’re not going to get) you have to take their word with a grain of salt. You should never believe a bookie ‘poormouthing’ about all the money they lost on a given NFL weekend, nor should you believe them when they’re suggesting (or strongly intimating) that you should bet one way or another.

In this case, however, I happen to believe them. So what does the early line movement on McGregor mean? How can I be sure it’s ‘square’ money? If I want to bet Mayweather when should I do it? Those questions and many more will be answered herein. This information shouldn’t necessarily be taken as my handicap or ‘picks’ on the fight (though I haven’t exactly been shy about who I think will win). You can expect extensive handicapping coverage of the matchup as we get closer to fight time. This is simply my analysis and interpretation on what the early betting trends represent.


Forget for a moment that Conor McGregor has never been in a professional boxing match. That fact notwithstanding, the betting dynamics on this fight are pretty typical for most of Mayweather’s bouts. The last time I made the mistake of betting against Mayweather was in his 2001 fight against the late Diego Corrales. Corrales is still one of my all time favorite fighters–a tough guy with power who also had decent boxing skills. I thought that he’d be the guy to *finally* ‘catch Mayweather and beat him up’. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Mayweather won by 10th round TKO, knocking Corrales down five times. Corrales connected on only 60 of 206 punches which at the time was a Compubox record for futility (here’s the full fight if you want to watch Mayweather’s clinic).

I wised up but strangely the disproven narrative remained–in the mind of the general public all that needed to happen was for the right fighter to ‘catch Mayweather and beat him up’ and that would be that for ‘Money’s’ undefeated record. Sure, it’s never actually happened that way but the narrative has remained intact to this day. The ‘myth’ is so pervasive that it became the blueprint for promoting a Mayweather fight.

It also helped establish a pattern for *betting* Mayweather’s fights. Once a fight was announced money would come for Mayweather’s opponent and continue as the hype machine promoted the match. All of the Mayweather money would come late, sometimes as late as fight night. The betting action for the opponent was typically an aggregation of smaller bets while the action on Mayweather had a disproportionate number of big bets. That appears to be what’s happening here showing that for whatever reason the myth that once the right fighter faces Mayweather that he’ll ‘beat him up’ continues to live and doesn’t even require that the opponent be an actual boxer to make it work.


Later in Mayweather’s career and well after his ‘heel persona’ had made him a ton of money it became something of a tradition that he would fight on or around Mexican Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) in September. His opponent would the best Mexican fighter available with the fight set for Las Vegas. This made promotion a breeze–the passionate and knowledgeable Mexican boxing fans would spend their Independence Day in Las Vegas or at the very least watch the PPV hoping that their native son would be the guy who would ‘catch Mayweather and beat him up’.

It also further drove the betting patterns since the majority wouldn’t *think* of wagering on Mayweather. That meant more early betting against Mayweather which further drove down his prices and gave the ‘sharps’ even tastier value when they pounded the favorite late in the cycle. McGregor obviously isn’t Mexican but it could be that he has the same fan base that is begging him to prevail in the daunting task before him. He always brings out a bunch of loud, enthusiastic Irish fans when he fights so that could be part of it–and particularly at the UK based sportsbooks. Maybe it’s UFC fanboys who can’t name a heavyweight boxing champion other than Mike Tyson. Whomever is doing it they’re betting with their heart as opposed to their head–another common trait in Mayweather bout betting.


Let’s start with Conor McGregor. The best time to bet him was when the fight was still in the hypothetical stage. The second best time was last week. The absolute worst time to bet him is right now. Assuming that taking the price on McGregor ever represented good betting value (and I don’t think it did) all of that value is gone and then some. At this point, McGregor is at the same price as many of the highly skilled boxers that Mayweather faced including Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero and double tough Miguel Cotto.

The betting pattern on McGregor is also evidence that this is ‘square’ money at work. ‘Sharp’ players wouldn’t keep betting McGregor at increasingly bad prices. There’s no evidence of ‘market timing’ whatsoever. If ‘sharp’ players were betting and weren’t able to get in early they would wait for some takeback on Mayweather to get down. In fact, this is what I’m going to advise you to do. If, for whatever reason, you want to bet McGregor you need to wait. Maybe even until just a few minutes before bell time. This is when you’ll get the best price available at this point but at the very least wait until you start to see significant betting on Mayweather. Whatever you do, don’t bet McGregor now getting the very worst possible price in the process. And don’t bet him without watching this borderline laughable video of him sparring as it may cause you to reconsider.

If you want to back Mayweather you could do a lot worse than betting now. The prices on Mayweather now are an early Christmas gift. I got Mayweather at -500 a couple of days ago and even if you don’t see that price again he’s available at this very moment at -550 or -600. If you told me before the fight was booked that I could back Mayweather over Conor McGregor making his boxing debut for less than I laid against tough as nails veteran Miguel Freakin’ Cotto I would have thought you were insane. I’ll update the betting patterns again before the fight but there’s no time like the present if you’re a Mayweather backer. There’s a lot of Mayweather money on the sidelines–it hasn’t shown yet because they keep seeing better and bettor prices. But once it hits it’ll hit hard (I personally know of several six figure Mayweather bets waiting for just the right time) and the gift lines we’re seeing now will be a thing of the past.

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This betting analysis was written by 25+ year professional oddsmaker, sports book consultant and handicapping theorist Jim Murphy and comes courtesy of

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