Props The Only Way To Bet On Canelo’s Homecoming Mismatch

canelo alvarez john ryder staredown

More than 17 years into a pro boxing career that began when he was just 15, now 62 fights into a first-ballot Hall of Fame run that has earned him nearly half a billion dollars in purses, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is entitled to the occasional “gimme.”

He’s taking one of those Saturday night. For his first fight in his native Mexico in nearly a dozen years, super middleweight champ Canelo hand-picked tough and determined, but limited and predictable, veteran British southpaw John Ryder as presumptive career victory no. 59.

The bookmakers certainly see it as a formality. In the two-way market (moneyline prices on either boxer where a draw results in a refund), surveying the regulated U.S. mobile sportsbook odds, Alvarez ranges from -1600 at DraftKings to -2000 at Caesars and BetMGM, while Ryder can be found as high as +1000 at Caesars.

If a sports bettor really wanted to back Canelo to win outright, they could do a little better with the three-way line at FanDuel. The wager loses if the fight is a draw, but given how unlikely that outcome is, -1100 on Canelo is preferable to anything in that -1600 to -2000 range.

Still, does any recreational bettor really want to risk $110 of their bankroll to win 10 bucks? And on the flip side, does any level-headed bettor want to waste $10 trying to win $100 on the chance of the biggest star in the sport and an elite pound-for-pound level fighter losing at home against a challenger with no physical advantages whatsoever?

This is most definitely not an even-money megafight. So betting Alvarez (58-2-2 with 39 KOs) vs. Ryder (32-5 with 18 KOs) for value requires a bit more creativity.

Let the prop shopping begin

Let’s start with the moderately creative. Every major sportsbook offers method-of-victory props. Here are the prices on this fight’s with five leading operators, listed alphabetically:

The best available odds for each option: Canelo KO -300 (BetMGM), Canelo decision +430 (FanDuel), Draw +2600 (FanDuel), Ryder KO +1600 (FanDuel), Ryder decision +2200 (BetRivers).

Canelo by KO is the clear favorite for a reason. Sure, Ryder has only been stopped once in his five losses, and that was eight years ago. But against this approximate level of opposition, Alvarez takes care of business. His two opponents in the last five years weaker than Ryder, Avni Yildirim and Rocky Fielding, were each dispatched in three rounds. Sergey Kovalev, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant were all a notch or two better than Ryder and they got stopped in 11, 8, and 11 rounds, respectively.

The only not-quite-A-lister to go the distance with Canelo from 2018 to present was Callum Smith, who took a beating for all 12 rounds at the Alamodome in 2020 but stayed on his feet. As it happens, the best performance of Ryder’s career came in a disputed decision loss to Smith a year earlier.

Alvarez by decision is far less likely, but the FanDuel odds are so far off from every other book’s that they may just have some value.

As for Ryder by decision, 22/1 at BetRivers may appear tempting. But be forewarned that, against Canelo in Guadalajara, with some 50,000 fans in a soccer stadium cheering the local hero’s every jab and feint, Ryder is not going to be awarded many, if any, close rounds. Even if you think there’s a 10% chance the Londoner fights well enough to deserve a decision after 12 rounds, that may not add up to the 4.35% chance you’d need of him actually getting the decision.

Let’s get weird

Fortunately, there are lots of other ways to bet this fight, with most of the more intriguing options focused on knockdowns scored or specific rounds in which the conclusion comes. A sampling of one veteran boxing journalist’s favorite plays to consider:

Canelo by KO anytime in rounds 5-8, +180 (BetMGM): There are options at most books to bet on individual rounds or groups of rounds, and this is the most likely band of rounds at the best price (it’s only +155 at FanDuel).
A knockdown anytime in the first six rounds, +220 (FanDuel): Ryder is -280 to get knocked down at some point in the fight; this is a much juicier price for it to happen on the early side, with the added benefit of the bet winning if Canelo touches the canvas.
Ryder knocked down in the first minute of any round, +280 (FanDuel): Knockouts in the first minute of a round are considerably less common than in the second or third minutes. But knockdowns can realistically come at any time.
Canelo by DQ, +10000 (DraftKings): Sure, it’s a shot in the dark, but as happened in the memorable Junior Jones-Marco Antonio Barrera upset in 1996, a KO win can go into the record books as a DQ if a cornerman enters the ring to stop the fight — just one example of how funky things sometime happen in this sport. Ryder somehow getting disqualified may be worth a frivolous sweat at 100/1.
Canelo KO/TKO/DQ and Aljamain Sterling by decision, pre-made parlay, +317 (DraftKings): Sterling is +225 to beat Henry Cejudo by decision in a UFC fight on the same night. If you’re an MMA fan who likes that price on Sterling, a safe-ish bet on Canelo isn’t a bad way to bump up the odds.
2+ knockdowns in the fight, -155; 3+ knockdowns, +240; 5+ knockdowns, +3600 (FanDuel): The last one is an enormous reach, as it’s rare to get to five knockdowns before the bout gets stopped. But it’s hard to ignore the leap in price here from two knockdowns to three. And that three-knockdown wager becomes a delightfully fun sweat if and when two knockdowns have been scored.

Lastly, we have ourselves an arbitrage opportunity! It’s not the biggest window to cash in on, but with FanDuel’s price of -280 for Ryder to get knocked down and DraftKings’ price of +285 for Ryder not to get knocked down, well, that’s an even safer betting situation than the nearly foregone conclusion of Canelo winning in his homecoming fight Saturday.

Photo: Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images

Author: Ryan Gonzales