Feb 27, 2017
Feb 27, 2017

Boxing betting strategy: The importance of pre-fight preparations

How to use pre-fight preparations as part of a boxing betting strategy

Experiences with Kell Brook and Amir Khan highlight how to make money on boxers who 'bulk' before a fight

Find out what it takes for a professional boxer to change weight divisions

Boxing betting strategy: The importance of pre-fight preparations

Credit: Getty Images

Danny Wilson has previously worked with elite boxers as a strength and conditioning coach. This job has given him an inside look at how boxers prepare for a fight - something bookmakers don’t have access to. His expert knowledge can be used as part of a boxing betting strategy to get an edge over the bookmaker. Read this interview to find out how.

Hello Danny, can you tell us a little about yourself and the job of a strength and conditioning coach?

I’ve worked with over 100 amateur and professional boxers as a strength and conditioning coach, most recently I helped prepare Kell Brook for his jump from welterweight to middleweight to face Gennady Golovkin.

As for strength and conditioning, it is essentially optimising a boxer’s physiological state before a fight - whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle or any other requirements, I am there to get them in the best possible shape for their boxing match.

How could a fighter’s increase in size affect how you bet on boxing in general?

Once you know how to bet on boxing, knowing about the methods a fighter is using before a major fight can vastly supplement how you bet on the fight. The Amir Khan vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight is a great example of this.

Anyone with knowledge of the effect that bulking would have had on Khan would have most certainly sided with Canelo.

Khan’s main weapon in his arsenal is his speed. However, he took away his strongest weapon by bulking before the fight. If bettors knew this, they would have expected Khan to start fast and win rounds early, but the areas he put on muscle (his arms) would ultimately wear him down and result in a stoppage for Canelo.

Plenty of people would have bet on Khan to beat Canelo without knowing the fundamentals and science behind gaining that much weight at elite level - anyone with knowledge of the effect that bulking would have had on Khan would have most certainly sided with Canelo.

Is that the case with Kell Brook’s move to middleweight to face Gennady Golovkin?

After stepping up two weight divisions to face a boxer that had stopped every one of his opponents for the past eight years, Kell’s weight transition was regarded as a success. Had it been any middleweight in there other than Golovkin, he would have carried the weight for 12 rounds if necessary.

The difference between Kell and Amir when ‘bulking’ up to middleweight is recognising the difference between the two body types - Kell is an explosive fast athlete, whereas Amir is more of an endurance athlete. That is why if the two were ever to box, Brook by knockout or Khan via decision would a sensible bet.

Bettors often say there is an advantage to betting on the boxer with a taller, wider stance in boxing. Is there any truth in this?

In truth, there is no such thing as a wide stance. A boxer’s stance needs to be wide enough so they can maintain balance at all times which is known as a true fighting stance. Some fighters are taller than others, so they naturally require a wider posture to find true fighting stance.

It needs to be wide enough for a fighter to move, pivot, slip, pull, change levels, control and attack. As long as you can execute all of these things perfectly the fighter will be good. If the boxer can't then they are either too narrow or too wide. The width of their stance may vary depending on the boxer's attack.

Is there another recent fight that your knowledge could be applied to?

The fight between David Haye and Tony Bellew is perhaps a good example to use.

Haye's size was only detrimental to his performance after the first six rounds.

Although not as slender as his earlier days, Haye put on weight but not a lot of fat mass. Trimming down in previous fights may have left him in a negative energy balance, therefore not fueled to optimise his physical performance.

In training this means that a boxer cannot train like a bodybuilder to put on muscle. They still require a functional approach to improve movement, speed and coordination.

So what impact did Haye’s size have against Bellew?

Haye’s bulking looked favourable but his speed and punching force wasn't as effective as anticipated. Many expected his advantage in size to benefit him against Bellew, especially between rounds one-to-six. However, very few would have predicted the injury that essentially ended the fight.

His size would have most likely become detrimental to his performance once the fight went past six rounds anyway because that’s when the naturally lighter endurance athlete can acquire the benefits.

What about Bellew's pre-fight preparations against Haye?

Bellew’s traditional methods to increase muscle hypertrophy often consist of high-rep ranges and training large volumes. This type of training inspires slow twitch muscle fibres and activate motor units at lower thresholds - something that negatively affects the speed of muscle contractions, and when you couple that with an increase in body mass, it results in a much slower athlete.

Bellew is not the quickest of fighters at light-heavyweight or cruiserweight, so after bulking up to heavyweight the only way Bellew would have benefitted is if the fight went long (or if his opponent ruptured his achilles tendon and could no longer move around the ring). Haye's game plan would have been to finish the contest between rounds one-to-six and avoid giving Bellew any gain in the fight - it's hard to say what would have happened had Haye not sustained his injury.

How does a fighter’s physiological state affect their punch?

A forceful punch is dependent on how much momentum you can create. This is how quickly you can move mass towards the target. Heavyweights with fast hands hit so hard because they generate momentum.

A heavyweight boxer is often much slower than a featherweight in terms of hand speed because they have to overcome the inertia of their mass by producing a lot more force. Going back to the Haye vs. Bellew example, this is what Bellew encountered when challenging David Haye, whereas Haye naturally knows how to carry his size and weight to his advantage to get his power punches off.

Now that you know more about the science of boxing, put your knowledge to good use with the best boxing odds online at Pinnacle.

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