The Biggest Upsets in Boxing Betting History: When David Slays Goliath

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Boxing is a sport full of tradition and drama, so many people around the globe set alarms at night to watch a fight. They want to testify, how two gladiators enter the ring and push themselves to their limits in a violent test of skill and willpower. Beyond the athletic spectacle, boxing has always been a grant for emotions, as it has been connected to betting since its ever beginning. Spectators wager on the outcome of fights, and sometimes, those wagers have resulted in seriously historic upsets. Before we jump into five of the most incredible examples in boxing betting history, let’s start by taking a look at how the betting odds are determined.


Betting Odds

Bookmakers consider the boxers’ records, the recent form of the athletes, their respective boxing styles, and their physical abilities in general. Fight contexts like weight class and title implications matter in the same way as the direct head-to-head comparison. In simple words, the odds reflect who the oddsmakers think will win, with adjustments to balance the betting for the sportsbook.

These odds are finally published before the competition as the starting odds for the public. This process is consistent across all the platforms and sports, whether it’s a mobile betting app for football, a general betting site or the one focused on esports, or a local bookie. From that point, public betting regulates the odds by the amounts that are wagered on each fighter, so that sharp bettors (pros) can even influence the odds, too.


Top 5 Upsets in Boxing History

The victory of an outsider always completely overturns these calculations, for sure. Here are five examples of the biggest upsets in boxing betting history:

  1. James “Buster” Douglas defeats Mike Tyson (1990).
    This unforgettable fight is commonly referred to as the biggest upset in boxing chronology because the undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was undefeated (37-0) until that day. Buster Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, entered the fight and knocked out Tyson to all our surprise in the 10th round in a stunning upset.
  2. Max Schmeling defeats Joe Louis (1936).
    Joe Louis was a massive favorite before the start of the fight. He was the official heavyweight champion and undefeated in his career (24-0) until that day. Max Schmeling, a German boxer, pulled off a shocking upset by knocking Louis out in the 12th round. This fight took on added significance due to the political climate of the time.
  3. Hasim Rahman defeats Lennox Lewis (2001).
    Lennox Lewis was the undisputed heavyweight champion and a major favorite going into this fight. Hasim Rahman, a 3-1 underdog, knocked Lewis out in the fifth round to win the title. This upset was overshadowed by Lewis’s dominant win in the rematch later that year.
  4. Andy Ruiz defeats Anthony Joshua (2019).
    Anthony Joshua was the unified heavyweight champion and a massive favorite going into this fight. Andy Ruiz, a significant underdog (around 25-1), knocked Joshua down four times and won the fight by a TKO in the seventh round. Similar to the Lewis-Rahman fight, this upset was avenged by Joshua in a dominant rematch performance.
  5. Leon Spinks defeats Muhammad Ali (1978).
    Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was already past his prime when he fought Leon Spinks, but he was still a big favorite. Leon Spinks, a relatively unknown fighter, won the fight unexpectedly by a split decision to pull off a major upset.


The Enduring Allure of the Upset

These five fights only represent a small part of all the incredible upsets that have been recorded throughout boxing history, and for sure, there are more in other sports. They shall remind you that even in a sport with seemingly predictable outcomes, nothing is for granted when two fighters confident of victory step into the ring. The allure of the underdog, the fighter with nothing to lose, is a powerful force that continues to draw fans and bettors alike.

You can always find records of each fighter to investigate the fighters’ strengths, but the next time you tune in for a big fight, remember our before-mentioned stories. Even when the favorite seems unbeatable, there’s always a chance for a true underdog to etch their name in boxing history.



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