Breaking Down Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren Betting with BetRivers
The entire fight world will shift its focus to Atlanta, Georgia this weekend for what is the most anticipated boxing match of the year in Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren. That’s right, YouTuber Jake Paul is stepping into the ring with former mixed martial artist Ben Askren in an 8-round, cruiserweight boxing match.
There are a ton of questions surrounding this fight. Who will win? How do you price up odds between these two inexperienced fighters? Where is the money being bet? So, we figured we’d bring in the professionals.
Just a few days away from the fight, we sat down with BetRivers’ Troy Machir to talk about what to expect in the betting market in the days leading up to the fight. Troy also knows a thing or two about the combat sports world, so he also gave us his pick for Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren.
1. First, what is your Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren pick, and why?
My pick is Ben Askren because he's the actual professional here. Yes, it's true, Askren is not a boxer by trade, and although an Olympic-caliber wrestler, the multi-time All-American has never been known for his striking skills. But it's also true that Askren successfully defended the Bellator welterweight championship five times from 2010 to 2013, and the ONE welterweight championship five ties from 2014 to 2017. Then again, his MMA record of 19-2-1 doesn't include nearly the credible names you would expect from someone who was as near the top of the welterweight rankings for as long as he was. And to top it all off, our lasting memory of Askren is the 7-second flying-knee KO loss he suffered to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239, already considered one of the most iconic KOs in UFC history.
But having said all that, Askren has spent the last decade as a combat professional. Even if his striking has never improved, and even if he's avoided opponents with legitimate striking skills, he's spent his career on the mat and hitting the pads. I admire Jake Paul's ambition and willingness to jump into the world of combat sports. But I just cannot fathom a scenario in which a YouTube celebrity batters and picks apart a seasoned combat pro over the course of a full fight. Would I be surprised if Askren sleepwalks through the fight and Paul picks up an unimpressive decision victory? No, not at all. But That's not a scenario I would bet on here.
2. Overall, where is the money right now?
67% of the fight handle and 77% of fight bets are backing Jake Paul to beat Ben Askren. I expect that number to come down a lot as fight night approaches.
3. Have there been any massive bets placed yet that are worth highlighting?
The largest current wager is a $2,800 bet on Jake Paul (-133 ML) that has a potential payout of $4,900.
4. Askren opened as a huge underdog, but his odds have shortened substantially. Why do you think this has happened?
I was very surprised to see Askren open as an underdog. Although the public money is still backing Paul, I suspect the odds are beginning to shift because the opening line was overinflated based on the last memory we have of Askren (KO loss) and Paul (KO win). But not all KOs are created equal. Askren's KO loss was to a UFC title challenger with 16 career victories by KO or TKO. Paul's KO win was against a former NBA player making his boxing debut.
5. How are odds made for a fight like this? (A celebrity boxer who has fought illegitimate opponents and a fighter who has competed in similar, but different sports)
Setting odds for this bout is tricky business. I tend to believe that "circus fights" like these are impacted by the incoming money more than most other bouts due to the lack of insight and data the linemakers have to go off of.
6. Where do you envision the sharp money going as we get closer to fight night?
I expect sharp money to come in on Askren as we approach fight night, although considering how surprised I was to see Paul as the favorite and how surprised I was to see him backed nearly 80% of total bets and 70% of the total handle, I'm not so sure what will transpire.
7. Has there been any footage / media content you have seen that has changed your view on either fighter from a skill standpoint?
I've been disappointed in the buildup for this fight. But to be fair, I'm not sure what I was supposed to expect. This is the most unique circus fight we've seen in a long time, maybe ever, but I think we might start to be seeing some public fatigue as it relates to the recent rise of celebrity boxing.