Boxing betting: Can Jamel Herring upset 9-1 favorite Shakur Stevenson?

·Combat columnist
·3-min read

In Shakur Stevenson’s last five fights, he fought 43 rounds. Two of those rounds ended short, when he knocked out Felix Carballo in the sixth round and Alberto Guevara in the third. But the others went to the scorecards and it presents a remarkable story.

There were 41 scored rounds, and he won 40 of them on all three judges’ cards. Joet Gonzalez won one of the 12 rounds he fought against Stevenson. Other than that, Stevenson not only won each of those fights, he won every round in them.

That probably explains why the unbeaten Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a hefty -900 favorite at BetMGM over WBO champion Jamel Herring in their bout Saturday in Atlanta for Herring’s super featherweight belt.

Herring is a +600 underdog.

Everything seems to favor Stevenson, and in a big way. He’s 24 years old to Herring’s 35. He’s got the kind of talent to one day be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He’s the quicker fighter and the more physically gifted athlete.

Yet, that +600 with Herring looks oh so attractive.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - SEPTEMBER 09: Jamel Herring (L) and Shakur Stevenson (R) face-off during their press conference for the WBO super featherweight championship at Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center on September 09, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kyle Hess/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
(L-R) Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson face-off during a Sept. 9 news conference ahead of their WBO super featherweight title bout on Saturday in Atlanta. (Photo by Kyle Hess/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

This is one of those cases where it may be best to lay off if you think Stevenson will win, as I do, because the number is so prohibitive. Risking $900 to make a $100 profit isn’t a path to success in sports betting or, for that matter, in business.

The thing that is scary about laying that kind of money on Stevenson is that Herring is by far the best opponent he’s faced and Stevenson, for all of his wondrous talent can kind of zone out some times.

A Marine and the captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team in London, Herring is the personification of the guy who squeezes out every last bit of his talent. When you fight Herring, you know you’ll get the best of him on that night every time out.

If it’s Stevenson at his best, it doesn’t matter which Herring shows up, because Stevenson is that good. But Stevenson at less than his best is where it becomes interesting. Tiger Woods used to say he needed to learn to win when he didn’t have either his A game or B game on the course. Maybe he had his C game that week, but he found a way to win.

If Stevenson fulfills his enormous potential, that’s what he’ll do, win on nights he’s less than his best against elite opposition.

Herring, who is 23-2 with 11 KOs, qualifies as elite opposition. He’s coming off an impressive victory over Carl Frampton, one that sent the great former champion into retirement.

Herring is a smart boxer who has the ability to adjust, and is as physically and mentally as tough as they come.

I believe Stevenson is going to deliver a good performance, but I don’t believe it so much that I want to back him at 9-1 odds. So while I think Stevenson will win, I’m going to go with Herring. I’ll take the +600 and wager $100 on him, content in the knowledge that Herring is going to give me all he’s got that night.

If it’s not enough, I accept that because Stevenson is a future superstar. The only other choice would be betting either on the rounds proposition bets, which aren’t up at BetMGM yet, or pass altogether.

I’m a gambling man and I love that plus money, so I’ll play Herring to win and cross my fingers.

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