IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up the betting options for tonight’s undisputed super-middleweight title showdown between WBC, WBA Super and WBO champion Canelo Alvarez and IBF king Caleb Plant in Las Vegas.
We know what we have in Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant, two champions at 168 pounds who meet in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Canelo is the superstar, Plant an unbeaten underdog who seems convinced that he is on the cusp of springing a major upset.
Canelo is a big favourite at -1000 (Betfred). The odds are justified. Canelo has the big-stage experience, and he looks the more powerful, superior all-around fighter. Plant, though, has skills and speed. He has fast hands. And with an undefeated fighter, as ever we can’t be sure of the level he can reach.
From the time the fight was announced I always felt that Canelo by late-round stoppage looked the likely outcome. But is this too obvious? Canelo doesn’t always get opponents out of there.
A goodly number of Canelo’s title fights have either gone the full 12 rounds or into the late rounds. Alfredo Angulo and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr were mere target practice for Canelo, but Angulo lasted into the 10th round and Chavez went the full 12. Canelo never looked like stopping Gennadiy Golovkin or Erislandy Lara, of course. Daniel Jacobs lost clearly but lasted the course. The fight with Sergey Kovalev was one round shy of going the distance. Callum Smith, although outclassed and outgunned, endured for the full 12 rounds.
So, while Canelo might well wear down Plant, it’s not guaranteed that he will stop him. Plant is tall and rangy and has good movement. He has the pride of a fighter who has never been beaten. If Plant feels he can’t win, he still might be able to get through to the final bell.
But surviving the 12 rounds is one thing. Does Plant actually have a route to victory? I don’t think he does. Canelo has faced all styles of fighter, from out-and-out sluggers like James Kirkland to cute southpaws such as Lara and Austin Trout, not to mention the iron-chinned and formidable Golovkin, who brought skill, power and pressure, although I acknowledge that there are many who will never believe Canelo won the GGG fights.
So, really, Plant doesn’t have anything that Canelo hasn’t seen before. Yes, Plant towers over Canelo, but so did Callum Smith. He’s shifty and elusive, but so were Erislandy Lara and Billy Joe Saunders.
It’s possible that Plant will enjoy early success, getting off with jabs and combinations, using the ring and proving difficult to hit with flush shots, but can he keep Canelo off him for round after round?
Canelo is excellent at moving into range and landing compact, hurtful blows. One can visualise Plant scoring points, but the really solid shots are likely to be coming from Canelo.
Betting on the fight is tricky. Canelo himself says he feels he will stop Plant somewhere in the range of seven to nine rounds. I believe Plant genuinely upset Canelo with his confrontational behaviour at September’s Beverly Hills press conference that led to slaps being exchanged and Plant suffering a small cut under the eye. Canelo will definitely want to punish Plant, but I believe he will look to do so in a calculating, controlled manner. So I don’t see Canelo going all out for an early KO. And after all his talk about proving doubters wrong, I believe Plant will stick with it even if things are getting rough for him — and if a fighter makes up his mind not to get stopped it can be difficult to bring down the curtain.
Betting options? Well, Canelo to win in rounds 7-12 is priced at 6/4 (+150) at Betfred and that looks tempting. Canelo by decision at 9/4 (+225) isn’t a terrible look. Fight to end inside the distance is about 4/9 (-225). That’s a higher ticket price than I’m willing to pay.
I don’t feel really solid about any of these plays. Some markets list the over 7.5 rounds at 4/7 (-175). That might not be a bad bet. But there are too many variables for a player to feel confident about any selection, simply because Plant is in his biggest, toughest fight by far and we just don’t know how he’ll hold up. As a straight pick I will go with Canelo TKO9.
• A bet I quite like on another busy boxing weekend is Nathan Heaney vs Sladan Janjanin not to go the distance. Heaney and Janjanin meet in a middleweight fight scheduled for 10 rounds on the Queensberry Promotions show in Birmingham today. “Distance — No” is offered at around 8/11 (-140) across the market.
Heaney isn’t what you’d call a big puncher (just five opponents stopped in 13 bouts) but he’s a big, strong 160-pounder with a high punch-output. Heaney has a large and vocal fan base. He will surely want to put on a show for them against a naturally smaller opponent. Janjanin has been stopped five times. I think Janjanin will be struggling to keep Heaney off him as the contest goes deeper. If Heaney stays right on his man and goes to the body, I think he can get Janjanin out of there.
Main image: Canelo and Plant are ready to rumble tonight in Las Vegas. Photo: Amanda Westcott/Showtime.