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Gambling is an essential part of modern boxing

The sweet science, the sport of kings and more dramatic titles have been bestowed upon boxing, one of the most brutal and straightforward sports known to man. The premise is simple: two men climb through the ropes and go to war with just one emerging the victor, but the nuances of boxing, the surprise victories and indeed the violent knockouts are what attracts millions of people from around the world.

The big fights are events in their own right, with build-ups lasting months and the actual extravaganza now resembling a Hollywood film. The superfights, such as the meeting of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, bring Hollywood celebrities, international TV and the sports pages of the newspapers out in hot sweats for months and are worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the combatants. It is a colourful spectacular and the likes of Mike Tyson v Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier and Tommy Hearns v Marvin Hagler are etched into folklore.

On the British stage, we have had some legendary bouts, including the epic feud between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubanks that simply will never be forgotten. These are warriors, who went to war for the public’s approval. They are modern day gladiators and their victories echo through the ages.

Inevitably, gambling is a big part of boxing, indeed the vast amounts of money bet on each fight help make them such lavish affairs, and it is no coincidence that most of the big prize fights now happen in the gambling capital of the world: Las Vegas. The simple premise that one man falls, the perennial underdog story epitomised by the Rocky films that, just sometimes, plays out in real life and the constant publicity surrounding each fight means that gambling and boxing go hand in hand.

Boxing betting sites are springing up each and every day as different companies find creative ways to cover the biggest events and with the global media ensuring that an audience in Los Angeles can get involved in a boxing match in London, or watch live web coverage of an event in Dubai, the opportunities for boxing betting are increasing all the time.

So many options for laying your bets

Of course, as the sport has evolved, so has the betting market surrounding it and it is now possible to lay all kinds of bets that make gambling on boxing as delicate and refined an art as actually taking part. You can bet on the winner, of course, but there are all kinds of lesser bets, like the method of victory, as in a knockout or a points decision. You can bet on the round a fighter will win, if indeed they do take a knockout or technical knockout, and there are even systems in place to spread bet on boxing. That means even if one fighter is an absolute favourite, if they are not a heavy puncher and you suspect it will go to points then there are a number of different ways to bet on the points difference at the end of the fight.

A series of governing bodies mean there are a plethora of belts available in each weight class and some even have interim champions and silver champions now, which has become confusing even for ardent followers of the sport. Of course, more world champions are good for business in one respect, as a title fight always garners more attention. But purists often call for a return to the ‘glory days’ of three governing bodies, three belts for each weight class and for the leading fighters to take each other on and unify the belts on a more regular basis.

The history of boxing made simple

Boxing goes back to the 3rd millennium BC and ancient artwork depicts two men boxing in Assyria and Babylonia. It is essentially a gladiatorial sport and, with hand-to-hand combat proving an essential part of early human life, it is no surprise that boxing in some form or another pre-dates civilisation. It is entirely probable that the first cavemen boxed to assert their dominance, but they may have lacked the refined skills of today’s modern champions.

Boxing was popular in Ancient Rome and they even had rudimentary gloves, using leather thongs to wrap their fists. The Romans’ love of gore is legendary, though, so the gloves turned into weapons in their own right, with metal studs in the thong creating the first known knuckledusters. The fights also went to the death. Romans would not be welcome in an officially sanctioned contest in the modern era.

The popularity of the sport diminished after the Roman era and did not enjoy a real resurgence in mainstream culture until the 16th century, when bare knuckle boxing became a common phenomenon. James Figg became the first recognised champion of a sport with precious few rules in 1719: headbutts, throws and foreign objects could be used as cudgels without any problem from the referee. That is because there was no referee.

It was a far cry from modern boxing as we know it.

There were no weight classes, no rounds and no rules. Jack Broughton introduced the first rules in 1743 after a spate of fighter deaths. With the rules, a man was deemed unfit to continue if he went down for a 30-second count. Broughton also brought in ‘mufflers’, the precursor to modern day gloves, for exhibition bouts and training.

Boxing came in for another revamp in 1867 when the Marquess of Queensbury rules took over the sport. It was the first time the ring was standardised and the circle drawn in the sand in the old Roman days became the ‘squared circle’. Three-minute rounds were introduced, with a minute’s rest between, and the 10-count was introduced for the first time. Wrestling, weapons, headbutts and other unsavoury aspects of the sport were banned. Proper gloves were also introduced.

Gloves changes the face of boxing

Of course the gloves were brought in to protect the fighters’ hands and heads, but there was an interesting side-effect. The gloves effectively made the fighter’s hands larger, giving them more opportunities to block punches and the start of a defensive style of boxing that has been perfected by many modern greats began to emerge. Blocking, bobbing and weaving became essential skills as the brutal combat sport developed and evolved, with the traditional upright style of the older fighters giving way to a more fluid and relaxed approach.

There was another big problem, though, as society began to become more civilised, boxing was outlawed in England and the US, which drove it underground. The traveller community in England and further afield kept the tradition alive, using bareknuckle fights as a means of settling disputes, but true boxing was driven into the hands of unscrupulous promotors who put on illegal events. Bareknuckle fighting returned with a vengeance and there was even a legal case in 1882, which accused a fighter of actual bodily harm.

Fighting remained legal in Nevada, in the US, but was banned in a number of other states. This is another reason why prize fighters consider Las Vegas their spiritual home. In any case, boxing slowly made its way back into the public consciousness and now the sport is embraced like never before, with the big events drawing in pay-per-view crowds from around the world and ringside seats selling to stars for thousands of pounds each.

Safety measure bought the sport back

A variety of safety measures mean the brutality of the sport simply isn’t as big an issue in the modern era. Yes, it is still possible for a fighter to be hurt and tragedies still occur, but boxing is statistically a relatively safe sport and heavier 14oz gloves mean the savagery of the blows has largely been reduced. That has meant that boxing has worked its way back into the mainstream culture and with superstars like Mayweather and Pacquiao leading the charge, as well as the likes of the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, dominating the heavyweight ranks for a decade before Tyson Fury dethroned the younger brother, boxers have become elite athletes that corporations know can reach the modern youth.

Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali and more have gone on to have glittering careers in business and the media following their retirement from the ring and a succession of erudite, intelligent fighters have helped to change the public perception of this undoubtedly brutal sport.

The sheer number of boxing matches going on around the world each and every weekend would boggle the mind. It used to be a way for poor kids from the rough parts of town to make a name for themselves and escape poverty. Now it is a legitimate career path for athletic children from all walks of life and the amounts of money to be made for a top level boxer are simply incredible.

Boxing is seriously big business

The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight purse was estimated at more than £200 million, while even a one-belt battle for the heavyweight championship will almost certainly net the title holder tens of millions of pounds. The purse tends to decrease as you head down the weight divisions, but Mayweather, largely regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter in his prime, proved that this simply doesn’t have to be the case. If a fighter has a head for business and a smart team around them then they can be a global megastar at any weight and bank massive amounts of money in a relatively short career. Many fighters don’t go beyond 40 professional bouts in the modern era, compared to the hundreds of professional fights that the old-world boxers went through. Now it is all about maximising the earnings, which means that when a Mayweather comes along and you like to bet on boxing then it’s vital to get as many boxing bets online as you can.

Of course the fighters don’t get to the main stage right away and many of them have a glittering amateur career behind them before you even see them on television. The amateur sport, with headguards and three-round contests, is a world away from professional boxing and you sometimes see fighters that excel in the amateur ranks struggle to make it when they turn pro. Audley Harrison was one such recent convert, who won an Olympic gold medal at heavyweight, signed a seven-figure deal with the BBC to turn professional and then failed to impress. So far, Anthony Joshua is doing much better and those placing boxing bets online are more enamoured with the young Brit.

Study the form for the hidden clues

When they hit the professional ranks, it’s time to study boxers’ form if you want to bet on boxing and there are a raft of variables that can affect the outcome of any given fight. So if you are looking for boxing bets UK then you should look at the form of both fighters, how they perform against certain types of opponent and go beyond their simple win-loss record.

Even if a fighter has a vast amount of hype, indeed if they are a champion, they may have got there through clever career progression and many a hot prospect has been found out when they inevitably reached above their station and looked to climb to the next level and get the big payday. So if you’re looking at the live boxing betting then take a moment and study the form, and that of their opponent, because you might be surprised by the results.

Enjoy it, boxing betting is fun

Betting on boxing can add a touch of drama to an already spectacular show and there are a vast number of sites ready to give you the odds on a fight; you can find just some of our recommendations in the affiliate links section below. You can thanks us after you’ve collected your winnings!