Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran came to be known as the “Four Kings” after their multi-way rivalry in the welterweight-through-middleweight divisions defined boxing in the 1980s.
Early in the 2020s, my co-host on the podcast Showtime Boxing with Raskin & Mulvaney, Kieran Mulvaney, dubbed a quartet of rising lightweight stars — Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, and Teofimo Lopez — the “Four Princes,” a name that gained traction around the boxing media.
Part of what distinguished the Four Kings was that they all fought each other, across nine total fights spanning from Duran-Leonard I in 1980 to Leonard-Duran III in 1989. Some two years after the Four Princes shorthand was introduced, none of them have fought each other.
That changes Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, when Davis and Garcia headline a Showtime pay-per-view event. It’s by far the biggest boxing match of the year — so far, anyway — pairing two undefeated fighters still approaching their primes. Davis is 28 years old and has a record of 28-0 with 26 KOs. Garcia is 24 and a perfect 23-0 with 19 KOs.
But the numbers that really distinguish this matchup have to do with their respective fan bases. Garcia has 9.5 million Instagram followers. Davis has sold more than 15,000 tickets for each of his last seven fights, in six different major cities. They are, by modern boxing standards, massive burgeoning stars.
The question for sports bettors is which of these princes is worth wagering on to become the next king of American boxing.
First Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia fight poster graphic from Showtime… pic.twitter.com/Cpqcj7h5Ml
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) February 25, 2023
Up to +220 on a Garcia upset
All of the major mobile sportsbooks favor southpaw knockout artist Davis to win — and he’s minus-money everywhere to prevail via KO, TKO, or DQ. But the bookmakers see it as close and competitive (if not quite as close as a potential Errol Spence-Terence Crawford bout).
The best price on favorite Davis is at DraftKings, where he’s -245 in the two-way market (meaning the bettor gets a refund if the fight ends in a draw). On the Garcia side, the best moneyline return is +215 at either FanDuel or any of the Kambi-powered books (Barstool Sportsbook, BetRivers, and several smaller operators). Or there are +220 payouts to be found in the three-way market at FanDuel, Kambi, or BetMGM. But for the extra five cents, the bettor risks losing their stake if the fight is a draw.
Speaking of a draw, FanDuel has the highest payout on the boxing equivalent of a green spot on a roulette wheel, at +1800. (A draw is an appallingly short +1200 at Caesars and the Kambi books.)
The over/under total rounds prop fluctuates a bit from book to book, with most operators setting the line at 7.5 rounds, though there are others using 8 or 8.5. The vig varies accordingly, but the best value would appear to be over 7.5 at DraftKings at -115 or under 8 at BetMGM at +100 — with 90 seconds worth of “middle” available to hit if the bettor is willing to lose the vig on any result other than a stoppage in the latter half of the eighth round.
All of those over/under props make clear that Davis-Garcia is most likely to end inside the distance in concussive fashion. And that’s a point hammered home by the method-of-victory props.
Davis by KO/TKO/DQ is the favorite everywhere, between -140 and -150. The next most likely outcome is Garcia by stoppage, from +300 at Caesars and DraftKings to +390 at FanDuel. The longer shots are Davis on points (+460 to +600) and Garcia on points (+650 to +800).
The best price on the fight to go the full 12 rounds is +280 at Caesars, while the most bettor-friendly number on the fight not going the distance is BetMGM’s -300.
Props and parlays
As with all major fights, there are some off-the-beaten-path and longshot props to be found.
One of the more fun for those looking to take a puncher’s chance on, well, a puncher’s chance is to bet on a fighter to win by stoppage in a specific round. The shortest money is on Davis in a middle round (KO 7 at +900 at FanDuel, KO 6 at +1000 or KO 7 at +1000 at BetMGM). The biggest longshot? Some books have Garcia KO 1 as their biggest payout, but the highest number anywhere is on either Garcia KO 11 or Garcia KO 12 at FanDuel, each priced at +9500.
FanDuel has an assortment of other unusual props, including:
Davis to win in the first minute of any round, +350
A knockdown scored in round 12, +2900
A knockdown scored anytime in rounds 1-6, -105
A knockdown scored in both rounds 1 and 12, +21000
Both fighters knocked down in the fight, +700
Plenty of sportsbooks have the “both fighters knocked down” market, but +700 is the highest price available.
DraftKings has a line of over/under 1.5 knockdowns in the fight, with the under a -150 favorite and the over at +110. DK also has parlays built around that prop: Davis win/over 1.5 knockdowns, +190; Davis win/under 1.5 knockdowns, +135; Garcia win/over 1.5 knockdowns, +500; Davis win/under 1.5 knockdowns, +380.
Yes, premade same-game parlays have even come to the sport of boxing.
Sports bettors should take their time, though, and consider all wagers carefully. You wouldn’t want to let a fight between two of the Four Princes turn you into a pauper.
Photo: Sye Williams/Getty Images