For BetUS Sportsbook bettors who like to wager on things like professional boxing, there are a number of intriguing possibilities on the menu as 2008 winds down. We're going to be talking about these fights individually in depth, but let's scan over what's to come, with some of the numbers that are currently posted at BetUS.
IBF-IBO Light Heavyweight title
October 11 -- Las Vegas
CHAD DAWSON -300
ANTONIO TARVER +200
Light heavyweight supremacy - I guess to an extent - will be on the line in Las Vegas on October 11 as Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver do battle. At BetUS, Dawson is the -300 favorite, with Tarver at +200. Dawson, who won the WBC title 20 months ago, is the guy being touted by Showtime as the future of the division, but even at 26-0 he has not really been tested to the limit. Last time out he beat the aging Glen Johnson, and that was by far his most accomplished opponent. Tarver, best known for taking two out of three fights with Roy Jones, as well as his two fights with the aforementioned Johnson, recently regained a championship, winning the IBF title from Clinton Woods. For Tarver, it is time to make a move if he wants to do anything on the world scene, because the former U.S. Olympian is going to be 40 years old in November. Dawson is not a household word in boxing circles, but he can take a step toward getting there if he comes up with an impressive win.
October 18 -- Atlantic City
KELLY PAVLIK -400
BERNARD HOPKINS +250
Undefeated (34-0, 30 KO's) middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik will move up in weight and fight former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in Atlantic City on October 18. It's not for a title, and the two fighters will meet at 170 pounds. Pavlik is the early -400 favorite in the BetUS boxing betting odds, while Hopkins is +250. Pavlik has not exactly cut a swath through the middleweight class; he beat Jermain Taylor for the title in September of last year, defended successfully in a rematch against Taylor, then beat up on over-matched Gary Lockett. Hopkins has demonstrated his staying power at the age of 43. In the last few years, he has lost two fights to Taylor, then scored an upset over Antonio Tarver at light heavyweight, beat Winky Wright and then, in his last fight, lost to Joe Calzaghe on a split decision, but not before flooring the unbeaten Welshman in the first round. Basically, Hopkins is now interested in paydays. However, he is like a cat with nine lives, so a win by him could put him into a chance to win another world title. Surely he will have the big edge in experience.
November 15 -- Nashville
JERMAIN TAYLOR -700
JEFF LACY +400
We've made reference to Jermain Taylor a couple of times, and the former middleweight champ will be in action again on November 15 when he takes on Jeff Lacy, a former super middleweight titleholder, in a 12-round WBC super middleweight elimination bout that will be held on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville on November 15. Taylor, the former U.S. Olympian, who beat Hopkins to win the middleweight crown in July of 2005, later lost it on a seventh-round TKO to Kelly Pavlik. He hasn't fought since losing a decision in the rematch to Pavlik in February. Lacy won the IBF title at 168 pounds in October 2004 and made four defenses. But he's been in something of a limbo since being thoroughly outclassed by Joe Calzaghe in March of '06. In this fight, Taylor is the sizable -700 favorite at BetUS, with Lacy the +400 underdog. The thinking was that Taylor was more suited to the super middleweights, so this will give him a chance to demonstrate that. Meanwhile, it is truly a do-or-die fight for Lacy, who hasn't done much of significance after the embarrassing defeat to Calzaghe.
IBO Junior Welterweight title
November 22 -- Las Vegas
RICKY HATTON -300
PAUL MALIGNAGGI +200
Ricky Hatton, who lost in his big moment on stage against Floyd Mayweather last December, will make a defense of his IBO title at 140 pounds when he fights Paul Malignaggi at the MGM Grand on November 22. Hatton, the -300 favorite at BetUS, has a 44-1 record and has fought nearly all his bouts in the U.K. Last time out he had a choppy performance against Juan Lazcano in which he was in trouble on a couple of occasions. But he is an all-action brawler who makes his opponents fight every minute of every round. Malignaggi is 25-1 with just five KO's, and is the IBF junior welterweight champion. Brash and stylish, Malignaggi has been able to outbox most of his opponents but was overwhelmed a bit by Miguel Cotto in his only loss. If Hatton is in shape, he won't give Malignaggi room to breathe. And since Malignaggi doesn't really have the kind of punch to keep Hatton from coming forward, it will be a challenge to see if he can box and move enough to keep Hatton at bay.
That's not all; we'll take a look at even more upcoming boxing action at BetUS next time we talk.
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(Charles Jay of www.ebookies.com is a former manager, matchmaker and color commentator in professional boxing. He currently pulls no punches in the BetUS Locker Room)