IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston looks for the betting value in Saturday’s intriguing lightweight battle between Californian hotshot Ryan Garcia and London 2012 Gold medallist Luke Campbell.

We’ve had the weigh-in, both men looked excellent on the scales, so here’s a fight-day, betting-angle update on tonight’s lightweight title bout in Dallas between Ryan Garcia and Luke Campbell.

The odds on the undefeated Garcia have taken flight. He opened at -160 (5/8 on), then the bout was postponed due to Campbell’s positive Covid-19 test, and we are now seeing Garcia in the -300 (3/1 on) range. To me, Garcia is now an overpriced favourite.

If you like Campbell’s chances, Betfred is offering odds of 11/4 (+275) on the British boxer. But Campbell is up against it. He is boxing away from home against a fighter with authentic firepower who is seen by some (including his promoter Oscar De La Hoya) as an emerging superstar.

Assuming you don’t like the price on Garcia but fear that Campbell won’t spring an upset, there are the usual proposition wagers for you to consider.

What the odds reflect is that a long fight is expected but one that likely won’t quite go the full 12 rounds.

If you fancy Garcia’s chances of stopping Campbell, the KO TKO DQ proposition is offered at 10/11 (-110). The fight not to go the distance is priced at 4/7 (-175) at Betfred. These wagers have appeal considering that Garcia has 17 KOs in 20 wins. He is fast and explosive and radiates confidence. 

But Garcia is meeting his stiffest test by far, going up against an Olympic gold medallist and two-time world title challenger. Campbell is a seasoned southpaw with a high ring IQ. We haven’t seen Garcia in this type of fight before.

So, if wagering on the rounds total, method of victory, or the fight going the distance or ending inside the distance, a bettor is in some ways taking a step into the unknown. 

The total rounds proposition has been set at 9.5 rounds with pick ’em odds (-120 each side of the bet, take your pick). If you feel that Campbell’s experience and smarts will get him into the second half of the 10th round, then the “over 9.5” will appeal to you. 

Garcia is fast and explosive, but Campbell is a big, strong southpaw. He’s been dropped a few times but he’s never been stopped. Campbell knows how to box. At 33, he is a veteran (20-3, 16 KOs as a pro but with deep, world-class amateur experience) and he’s fought at a higher level than Garcia. 

Trainer Shane McGuigan is well aware that Garcia is dangerous. He will no doubt be urging Campbell to keep a tight defence and to stay alert at all times. 

However, betting on the fight to go over 9.5 rounds has obvious risks. The French fighter Yvan Mendy knocked down Campbell in their first meeting. Jorge Linares put Campbell down, as did Vasiliy Lomachenko. While Campbell gamely went the full distance with Lomachenko, he looked close to being stopped in the 11th round.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Campbell get caught and dropped tonight. But it’s not as if Garcia has blown away everyone he’s met. Carlos Morales and Jayson Velez both went 10 rounds with him and neither man was off his feet.

Garcia looked devastating in scoring one-round KOs in his last two fights, against opponents who had never been stopped. But these opponents, Romero Duno and Francisco Fonseca, were right in front of him. Campbell doesn’t figure to make himself an easy target. His likely strategy will be to stay back and use movement, getting off his punches and not staying in one place long enough for Garcia to time him for a big shot. 

However, it’s not easy to box a perfect fight for 12 rounds against a young, hungry fighter with speed and power. Although Garcia is only 22 he has filled out physically and looks strong at 135 pounds, a bit bigger-framed than Campbell. 

There are things we just don’t know. Will Garcia become frustrated if he can’t bang out Campbell early and finds himself being made to miss? And, then again, we don’t know the level Garcia can reach. There’s a chance that, in his biggest fight, he could rise to the occasion and deliver a “statement” type of performance.

When a fight has imponderable elements, it makes betting on the outcome tricky. I lean a little towards the fight going over 9.5 rounds. The advantage with this bet is that it’s almost even money (you’re not laying a big price) and it’s possible to see it coming in a winner. 

I don’t see an upset. Eddy Reynoso, Garcia’s knowledgeable trainer, would not have put him in this fight unless he was very sure of a successful outcome. The general view in the boxing fraternity is that this fight will show whether or not Garcia is the real deal. We will soon find out.

Main image: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions.