By Eben Novy-Williams


On paper, Floyd Mayweather should make quick work of Conor McGregor when the two square off in a boxing match in Las Vegas on Aug. 26.

Gamblers’ money, however, is on McGregor. While Mayweather — a 49-0 boxing champion with titles in five weight classes — is still the favorite, bettors have overwhelmingly backed McGregor to win — odds that opened as high as 11-1 (a successful $100 bet yields $1,100) have been cut by more than half.

At one sports book, 95 percent of bets and 79 percent of the money taken favors McGregor, a mixed martial artist with no professional boxing experience.

The bout is on pace to set a Nevada record for fight betting, passing the estimated $30 to $35 million gambled in 2015 when Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao.

As a result, the oddsmakers are facing heavy liability. As it stands Friday, William Hill would owe clients $2 million if McGregor wins (and win only about $400,000 if McGregor loses). That exposure could reach $5 million by fight night, according to Joe Asher, head of William Hill U.S., a record for their liability on a single event.

At South Point’s sports book, where 15 out of every 16 bettors have put money on McGregor, the liability is currently at $500,000. MGM, co-owner of the arena where the fight is taking place, is also bracing for a large loss should McGregor win.

Bettors who want to back Mayweather may be waiting to place their bets, hoping to see the odds shrink even further. South Point took a $50,000 bet on Mayweather on Thursday, and Asher said William Hill got a call this week from someone looking to bet $500,000 on the boxing champion.

“Typically the late money is on the favorite,” Asher said. “But it won’t get us anywhere close to even.”

— Bloomberg