IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value as Chris Eubank Jr faces Germany’s Anatoli Muratov in the Sky Sports main event on Saturday evening.

Today sees Sky Sports stage its first boxing show in the post-Matchroom era. Fighters headlining the Wembley Arena event are from Ben Shalom’s BOXXER outfit and Wasserman, whose boxing arm is headed by the Sauerland brothers. The boxers have the platform. Now it’s up to them to deliver.

Unfortunately for bettors, all the favourites are highly priced in what are mainly showcase fights. This leaves the sporting type looking for creative ways to wager, which means looking at the method of victory, total rounds and round groups market.

In today’s main event, middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr is an off-the-charts favourite to overcome Anatoli Muratov, who is 33 years old and who has been stopped in each of his two losses. Eubank is such a massive favourite (1/100 at Betfred, for instance) it isn’t even worth placing him in accumulators: What’s the point? 

We turn, therefore, to the proposition market.

Eubank is priced at 1/25 (-2500) to win by KO/TKO. Not much value there. But how about the total rounds market? The industry doesn’t see Muratov lasting too long. The over/under has been set at 3.5 rounds. My lean would be to the “under”. There are several reasons why I think Eubank is capable of closing the show before the halfway stage of round four. I’ll lay them out for you.

First off, I thought Muratov looked somewhat soft in the body at Friday’s weigh-in. He also looked a bit intimidated.

Eubank has essentially admitted that he allowed Marcus Morrison to hang in there with him for 10 rounds in his last fight. It seems that Eubank’s trainer, the great Roy Jones Jr, wanted to see how well his charge was able to implement things they had been working on in the gym. So, the Morrison bout was in effect a public workout. Now, surely, it’s time for Eubank to get down to business. He’s 32 years old. There’s no need to “get the rounds in”.

The industry has priced the over/under 3.5 rounds at 5/6 (-120) each side, take your pick. Surely Eubank can end this inside three and a half rounds if he really wants to do so? 

I thought Eubank had Morrison on the verge of being stopped in the second round. But Eubank backed off. Morrison is a big, strong, dead-game and capable fighter. If Eubank could have Morrison in deep trouble as early as the second round, surely he can do the same against Muratov? And, this time, close the show?

But betting on the total rounds is tricky. A fighter of superior talent and power will sometimes spin things out, like an actor reluctant to leave the stage. It’s possible that Eubank will just go through the motions and take his time before lowering the boom. That’s the risk in betting the “under”. But my guess is that the Eubank team will be looking for a “wow factor” performance. That means unleashing the sort of hand speed and firepower that his mentor Roy Jones exhibited when blowing out Thomas Tate in two rounds. I think the boxing public would like to see something similar from Eubank on Saturday.

As the odds suggest, Muratov looks hopelessly out of his league in this spot. How far out of his league? Well, last October he could only get a draw with a 39-year-old Siarhei Huliakevich (perhaps known better as Sergey Gulyakevich), who started boxing as a 130-pounder some 18 years ago and who lost to Alex Arthur in Scotland way back in 2006. Yet the ageing Belarusian was able to box on level terms with Muratov.

While Muratov does have some basic skills — and he landed a pretty good left hook to knock out German rival Ilias Essaoudi — he’s somewhat slow and deliberate. And he’s never met anyone as fast or explosive as Eubank. Not even close.

Eubank has promised that if he gets the opportunity to stop Muratov, he’ll go for it. I believe the opportunity will be there. It’s up to Eubank to take it.

On a day when a bettor has to rack his brains trying to find a wager that makes sense, taking a stab at the under 3.5 rounds in the Eubank vs Muratov fight, at almost even-money odds, looks worth considering.

Main image: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER.