Archive for April, 2009

Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton

Manny PacMan PacquianoRicky Hatton is at the peak of a brilliant career. But as far as the betting public is concerned, he’s a tomato can compared to Manny Pacquiao.

The northpaw from Manchester, England is the IBO and Ring Magazine light welterweight champion. There is one lone blemish on his 45-1 record: a 10th-round TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in the welterweight division, back in December 2007. Yet Hatton was priced at +210 as we went to press (for the latest lines, visit Bodog Sports) for Saturday’s massive title bout at the MGM Grand.

Pacquiao’s record is slightly less impressive at 48-3-2. And this will be the Filipino lefty’s first career fight at light welterweight, where Hatton faced all but a small handful of his opponents. But “Pac-Man” is easily the hottest commodity on the boxing market right now. He’s the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a former title-holder at five other weight divisions and the man who sent Oscar De La Hoya into retirement with an eight-round beating last December.

That fight was at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, with De La Hoya coming down from 150 pounds (where he also lost to Mayweather) and significantly larger than Pacquiao at the opening bell. But size meant nothing in this matchup as De La Hoya was beaten from pillar to post until his corner threw in the towel. Despite the general consensus among analysts that De La Hoya’s size and reach would be insurmountable in this matchup, the betting public threw its support behind the Pac-Man and pushed the Golden Boy from -240 in September to -165 the night before the fight.

They’re expecting another beating on Saturday. The props market has even odds for Pacquiao winning this 12-round bout by KO, TKO, or DQ. Hatton is 3-1 to achieve the same result after having knocked out 32 of his previous 46 career opponents. This man throws some serious lumber; Mayweather was quick to praise Hatton after their megafight, calling “The Hitman” one of the toughest competitors he’d ever met in the ring.

His Dad was impressed, too. The outspoken, yet respected Floyd Mayweather Sr. is Hatton’s trainer for this bout, his second since replacing Billy “Preacher” Graham and guiding his new charge to a convincing 11-round TKO over Paul Malignaggi last November. Hatton is a better technical fighter under Mayweather’s tutelage and is physically more up to the task at 140 pounds. His betting value appears solid in this situation.

The argument for Pacquiao at -270 to win is that he’s an even better fighter with an even better mentor in Freddie Roach, the reigning Trainer of the Year as deemed by the Boxing Writers Association of America. It’s also reasonable to expect punters from the United Kingdom to weigh in more heavily for their hero than Pac-Man’s legion of fans in the Philippines. And even though his legend has grown very quickly over the past two years, this is still the first time Pacquiao will be headlining a card. The betting public at large is unfamiliar with his earlier body of work in the ultralight divisions.

The clash of styles in the ring also appears to favor Pacquiao. As a southpaw, he threatens to frustrate Hatton the same way Eamonn Magee, Luis Collazo and others have in the past. Promoter Bob Arum told reporters that Hatton is “lost” fighting southpaws. Mayweather has countered by bringing in promising Cuban-born lefty Erislandy Lara (who will also fight Chris Gray on the undercard) to spar with Hatton in Las Vegas. And the Collazo fight from which Hatton barely escaped intact was at 147 pounds.

This is a very good matchup on paper between two dedicated and prepared fighters. Pacquiao’s speed advantage, stamina and stance point toward a victory, but Hatton is certainly no slouch and is very much worth a look at these prices – the props market has Hatton at 5-1 to win by decision on Saturday compared to 21-10 for Pacquiao. And since this event is an HBO pay-per-view, we bring back Harold Lederman’s Scorecard Props; Pacquiao is -125 to outscore Hatton by at least 4.5 points on Lederman’s unofficial scorecard.

HBO’s broadcast starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The undercard features a WBC super featherweight title between champion Humberto Soto and challenger Benoit Gaudet; again, check Bodog Sports for current odds.

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Add comment April 30th, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Preview

NFL Draft Preview 2009Have the Detroit Lions learned from history? Or are they doomed to repeat it?

The Lions are on the clock for this weekend’s NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Detroit’s draft-day misery over the past decade hangs over the franchise like a dark cloud:

2002: QB Joey Harrington, No. 3 overall
2003: WR Charles Rogers, No. 2
2004: WR Roy Williams, No. 4
2005: WR Mike Williams, No. 10

This collection of dubious picks eventually earned former President and CEO Matt Millen his walking papers – and kept Detroit in rebuilding mode on an annual basis. The Lions bottomed out last year at 0-16 (7-9 ATS). They’re last on the 2010 Super Bowl futures market at 150-1. And it appears they’re about to roll the dice again on a high-profile skill player. Reports from ESPN had the Lions trying to sign Georgia QB Matthew Stafford before Saturday’s opening rounds.

Who will the Lions pick first? Bet on the 2009 NFL Draft at Bodog Live.

The quarterback is the most important player on the field with the most difficult job. Drafting at this position is inherently risky, but also with a high reward, and last year’s successes with Matt Ryan in Atlanta and Joe Flacco in Baltimore appear to have emboldened front offices. Stafford is one of three QBs expected to come off the board early; USC’s Mark Sanchez and Kansas State’s Josh Freeman are the others.

Stafford certainly fits Detroit’s offense like a glove. His prime attribute is his arm strength, and scouts are drooling over the thought of Stafford airing it out to WR Calvin Johnson, who led the league last year with 12 touchdowns. Stafford is also fairly accurate with his throws, durable, and blessed with good leadership skills. But his focus and decision-making abilities are in question. If Stafford responds to coaching, he could blossom.

Think Stafford is the first to go? Bet on the 2009 NFL Draft at Bodog Live.

Those are the kind of “ifs” that often scare teams away – notice how former Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn slipped to No. 22 overall at the 2007 NFL Draft. Last year, the Miami Dolphins drafted conservatively, taking OT Jake Long with the first pick and later signing New York Jets castoff Chad Pennington to a free-agent deal. That approach worked brilliantly in 2008 as the Dolphins went from 1-15 to the AFC East title at 11-5 (8-8 ATS). Long was one of seven offensive tackles taken in the first round; this year could see another four OTs taken in the Top 10, starting with Baylor’s Jason Smith.

If Stafford is a deadbolt lock at No. 1, then it’s almost a given that Smith will become a member of the St. Louis Rams at No. 2. The Rams have ridiculously gaping holes in their offensive line, especially with seven-time Pro Bowl selection Orlando Pace going to the Chicago Bears as a salary-cap casualty. The Lions are also bereft of talent at left tackle and reportedly have Smith as their fallback choice should Stafford decide not to put pen to paper. Detroit has the No. 20 pick and could find Freeman available at that slot; the other premium OTs (Virginia’s Eugene Monroe, Alabama’s Andre Smith, Mississippi’s Michael Oher) should all be snapped up by then.

Is Jason Smith headed to St. Louis? Bet on the 2009 NFL Draft at Bodog Live.

On the defensive side, the general consensus is that the Kansas City Chiefs are going to take Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry with the No. 3 pick. Curry is ranked as both the best prospect at his position and the best overall by Scouts Inc. Conveniently enough, the Chiefs happen to need a rushing linebacker, although Curry would have been more useful in Kansas City’s “4-3 Under” system than the 3-4 front seven new coach Todd Haley plans to install. There’s every possibility the Chiefs will decide to trade down instead and pick up one of those aforementioned OTs instead.

NFL Draft Preview 2009 Some of the other big names expected to hear their names called sooner rather than later: Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree (possibly to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 4), Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno, Ohio State RB Chris “Beanie” Wells and his Buckeyes teammate, LB James Laurinaitis. The last name on this list could turn out to be the biggest steal of the draft. He started his college career as a piece of trivia – his father is best known as “Road Warrior Animal” from the world of professional wrestling – but Laurinaitis enters the draft as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008. He’s ranked behind only Curry at his position and could go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the top of the second.

Bet on the 2009 NFL Draft at Bodog Live.

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Add comment April 25th, 2009


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