IBHOF inductee and gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in a packed weekend of boxing where several undercard fights catch the eye including Adam Lopez vs Isaac Dogboe and Ibeth Zamora vs Marlen Esparza.

It’s a crazy Saturday night/Sunday morning for boxing. There are major promotions in Hamburg, El Paso, Las Vegas and Houston, not to mention 58-year-old Julio Cesar Chavez Sr headlining a PPV card in Guadalajara, Mexico (an exhibition match against Hector Camacho Jr).

We have a raft of massive favourites, plus some competitive match-ups and the usual tricky over/under proposition bets.

So many fights, so little time to analyse all of them.

There were underdogs I quite liked earlier in the week but the odds quickly got out of control.

Some fights are best left alone. We don’t have to bet on everything. Take Naoya Inoue’s bantamweight title fight with the Filipino southpaw Michael Dasmarinas in Las Vegas. Obviously the Japanese “Monster”, so fast, so talented and so powerful, has to be massively favoured. But if you like the idea of Inoue by KO you’re looking at odds of 1/7. The over/under has been set at 4.5 rounds. Dasmarinas has been stopped only once, and that was early in his career, nine years ago. He figures to last at least five rounds. But with Inoue in the ring, something sensational could happen at any moment. Why not just sit back and enjoy watching Inoue?

Middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, boxing at home in Houston, is a 1/50 favourite at Betfred over Juan Macias Montiel. On paper this looks like a total mismatch. The over/under has been set at 5.5 rounds at basically even money. Charlo initially missed weight on Friday. It was only by about half a pound but, still, one wonders if making 160 is becoming a struggle. Macias is strong and heavy-handed. I don’t think Charlo will be looking to get too adventurous, too soon, with this type of opponent, so the over 5.5 at 10/11 could have some appeal.

A play I liked earlier in the week was Marlen Esparza, boxing in El Paso in her home state of Texas, to spring the upset over Ibeth Zamora in a flyweight title bout but the odds have deteriorated. The US Olympic bronze medallist Esparza opened at 13/8 (+160) but now you’re looking at 5/6 (-120). The early value has gone. 

This actually could be one of the best women’s bouts of 2021. 

Mexico’s “La Roca” Zamora is tough and she’s relentless. But she’s 32 years old and I thought I saw signs of her slowing down a bit when she won a unanimous but hard-earned decision over Japan’s Chaoz Minowa in Puebla in November 2018.

If Minowa could win three rounds on the judges’ cards against Zamora, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to think that Esparza can win five rounds, even six rounds, and at worst be “in” the fight.

I was impressed with Esparza in her last bout, when she clearly outscored Sulem Urbina, a pressure fighter with a style similar to that of Zamora. It was the best I’ve ever seen Esparza box. She moved smoothly and she found a target for her right hand time and again. So I’m leaning towards Esparza to edge out Zamora.

Another underdog play that appealed to me early in the week was Adam Lopez at +175 (7/4) against Isaac Dogboe in a 10-round featherweight bout on the Inoue vs Dasmarinas show. The early number didn’t last long. Lopez is currently showing at 5/4 (+125).

This is a really interesting match-up. Lopez, 25, has won his last two fights, hard-earned decision victories over the always gritty Louie Coria and world title challenger Jason Sanchez. The son of the late former contender Hector Lopez, he has nice boxing skills and fast hands. While Lopez isn’t considered a very hard hitter, he did knock down the more seasoned Oscar Valdez in a game showing. His only other loss was by majority decision against highly skilled Stephen Fulton.

Dogboe is just a year older than Lopez and he won his last fight by stopping a faded Chris Avalos in the last round of an eight-rounder. While Dogboe is an excellent fighter, I believe his two very tough bouts with Emanuel Navarrete at 122 pounds might have taken a lot out of him. Those were career-shortening fights. However, Dogboe looked happy and confident at the weigh-in, with one of those carved-out-of-granite physiques.

Yet despite Dogboe’s pocket Hercules look, I think the timing of the fight could be right for Lopez. He has the height and reach advantages and I see him as the fresher fighter — and Lopez has a top-level trainer in Buddy McGirt.

I was thinking about Aaron Alameda as an underdog possibility against Angelo Leo in a clash of 122-pound contenders on the Houston show. The southpaw Alameda boxed well against dangerous Luis Nery and he had a solid amateur background as a member of Mexico’s national team. But Alameda missed weight by some one and a half pounds on Friday and that’s a red flag. Maybe Alameda spent a large part of his training camp just trying to lose weight? If that is indeed the case, he’s simply not going to beat the tough and tenacious Leo.

All in all, then, there really isn’t much to get excited about from a wagering perspective this weekend. Nothing on the roster jumps out at me as being good value. Maybe it’s a good weekend to keep our money in our pocket.

Main image: Lopez (left) and Dogboe after yesterday’s weigh-in. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.