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The Dish from Knish: Cory Spinks vs. Zab Judah II

BY Joey Knish ON February 03, 2005
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The Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri hosts the second edition of Cory Spinks versus Zab Judah after Spinks came away with a narrow twelve round decision victory in April of 2004. Home ring advantage goes to St. Louis native ‘Next Generation’ Spinks and so does the nod from the linemaker. Are they right? Well, they weren’t the first time these two fought.

While Cory Spinks had hoped a victory over Judah would propel him onto bigger and better things, his slick boxing southpaw style has him right back where he started with Judah the target once more. In the first bout Spinks came into the fight with a 10-pound edge and 2-inch reach advantage as the two clashed at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. That bout was Judah’s first as a welterweight and Spinks was the defending champion, bringing the WBC, WBA and IBF welterweight titles with him. Still, the men who make the odds saw fit to make Judah the favorite. The betting line on the first fight was:

Zab Judah -160
Cory Spinks +140

Over 11.5 Rounds -250
Under 11.5 Rounds +210

In wagering terms, a -160 favorite is when you have to Risk $160 to profit $100 when you back that boxer. To wager on the underdog you can Risk $100 to profit $140. The difference between the -160 and +140 (20) is the bookmaker’s commission. The same breakdown applies to the Total Rounds wagering where the Over was favored by the linemaker. In layman’s terms, 11.5 rounds is the equivalent of 11 completed rounds plus 1 minute 30 seconds (the halfway point) of the 12th round.

The first fight went down to the wire as Spinks dominated and frustrated Judah early and the Brooklyn native came on with pressure in the middle rounds to bring things closer. While Spinks was never known as a big puncher, he did manage to drop Judah with a flash knockdown in the eleventh round. Judah wasn’t hurt and returned the favor by decking Spinks in the final round. It did appear that Spinks was in more than a bit of trouble after going down, much more so than Judah when he was shown to his seat.

In terms of total connects, the difference was a mere 11-punch advantage for Spinks; he also out-landed Judah in power shots. That contradicted what one would have thought, as the taller, slick boxing Spinks should have held the edge in jabs with Judah landing more power shots. Instead, Spinks connected with more power shots and Zab landed more jabs.

When the final scores were announced it was Spinks 116-112 and, more accurately, 114-112, twice.

So after Judah was favored and lost the first bout the logical approach is to make Spinks the favorite in the rematch fighting in his backyard. And he is. The current consensus betting line is now:

Cory Spinks -170
Zab Judah +150

Over 11.5 Rounds -240
Under 11.5 Rounds +200

The Over-Under line is much the same as the first bout, as the initial meeting did go the distance, but both men were knocked down once each.

When looking at things from a wagering angle it always helps to break things down into percentages. If you were to bet on a fighter who is a -170 favorite your fighter needs to win the fight 63% of the time just to break even and more than 63% of the time to show a profit. Most often in boxing, fighters meet just one time and therefore the bettor must consider the chances of winning expressed as a percentage. When considering the Spinks-Judah rematch we must ask: Does Cory Spinks have a better than 63% chance of winning this bout? If the answer is yes, it is worth a wager based on a positive financial expectation.

At +150 take back with Zab Judah, the break even point is just 40%, so if Judah wins more than 40% of the time these two meet, or you feel he has a better than 40% chance of winning, then a wager on the flashy boxer has a positive financial expectation.

For the Total Rounds the thought process is the same. A -240 favorite (the price of a bet on the Over) must win more than 70.6% of the time to show a profit long-term. The Under at +200 must be the outcome of the fight more than 33.3% of the time to make economic sense.

Armed with this information an educated wager can be made on the fight, if we are inclined to do so. Something that bettors must always consider is that while the linemaker has to put up a line on a big fight, the bettor does not have to wager on it. We can say no. But in this case we won’t.

The belief here is that Spinks’ edge in boxing ability and natural size advantage will be too much for Judah to overcome, again. Judah always finds a way to take a round - or parts of rounds - off and those end up costing him dearly. We know that Spinks is not the heaviest hitter and the most likely scenario is that the fight goes the distance should he win. If an edge comes into play due to the location, that too favors Cory Spinks.

Our options are to risk $170 to profit $100 if Cory Spinks wins, bet $240 to make $200 on the fight going Over 11.5 rounds as we think it will go the distance, or to bet the Exact Outcome of the fight. When betting on the Exact Outcome, the punter can place a wager not only on which fighter (Spinks or Judah) will win, but also exactly how they will be victorious (by way of a Knockout or Decision).

The posted line on Cory Spinks by Decision is -105. By making this bet we pay less for Spinks to win (instead of -170) and less for the Over 11.5 Rounds (-240). It is possible to make this wager at a lower price because we must correctly predict both which fighter will win and exactly how. With the Over-Under proposition a winning wager gets paid regardless of who wins the bout.

Our investment will be Cory Spinks by Decision over Zabdiel Judah -105.

Risking $105 to profit $100 has a breakeven point of 51.2%. I believe that the exact outcome of Spinks beating Judah by Decision has a much greater chance of occurring than just 51.2% and that 61.5% (expressed as a betting line of -160) is far more accurate. As a result our wager makes sense.

Here’s hoping it makes dollars and cents.

Cory Spinks vs. Zab Judah is on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005. In the co-feature, Owen “What The Heck” Beck faces Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett in a 12-round heavyweight elimination bout. SHOWTIME will televise the doubleheader at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

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