February 24 Boxing Betting Preview

It's been a minute since I did a betting preview on a boxing card, so let's rectify that.

The biggest boxing event happening this Saturday is Edgar Berlanga headlining a card from Orlando that has a couple of intriguing matches.

Berlanga has one of the strangest career trajectories I've seen in boxing. He won his first 16 fights by 1st round KO. The last few of these were on ESPN cards, and the subplot, naturally, was always, will this be the fight someone makes it to the second round with Berlanga?

Well, in April 2021, someone (Demond Nicholson) finally did make it to the second round with him. In fact, Demond Nicholson took Berlanga the distance.

And since then, Berlanga hasn't knocked out a single opponent, in the first or otherwise, over five fights.

Sure, he's won those fights, and he remains undefeated. But he's looked shaky — he won close matches against Steve Rolls and Marcelo Coceres (Coceres knocked him down). Now, Berlanga is facing an undefeated fighter for the first time in his career.

Specifically, he's fighting Padraig McCrory of Ireland. He's the world's 26th-ranked Super Middleweight (Berlanga is 11th) according to Boxrec (all rankings in this article refer to Boxrec rankings).

But! McCrory has never fought outside of Europe before. In his last two fights, he lost rounds for the first time in his career. Berlanga, meanwhile, started looking like his old self in his last fight, While Quigley survived to the last bell, he was knocked down four times.

I think this might show us that Berlanga is "back," a bit, and he's 9 years younger than the 35-year-old McCrory. I think he's worth betting on at -475 (all odds in this article are from BetOnline).

Speaking of ages, guess how old this guy is: he lost to Paulie Malignaggi in 2012, and to Sugar Shane Mosley in 2013. He beat Ashley Theophane in 2014, and Jorge Linares in 2019.

I would guess someone with this sort of resume would be at least 40. But no, Pablo Cesar Cano, the boxer in question, is only 34. He turned pro at 16. And he is facing the undefeated Shakhram Giyasov of Uzbekistan. The ranking difference on this fight is wide (#12 for Giyasov, #96 for Cano at welterweight). It's hard not to respect Cano's career, and his last two bouts (both wins over guys with nice records) show he can still scrap, but I think the price of Giyasov at -1500 is about right, and I will only be betting this one as part of a parlay (taking Giyasov).

Another part of that parlay will be the Cuban lightweight Andy Cruz. He is only 2-0 as a pro, but like with fellow Cuban David Morrell, he is being fast-tracked as a professional. In fact, his first pro fight was for a minor strap (IBF international lightweight). He won that over a guy who was 35-7 and defended against a guy who was 26-5.

His opponent, Brayan Zamarripa, is 14-2. But all of his fights before this one were in Mexico, and there are just a ton of close wins (split decisions, majority decisions) among his victories. Cruz is going to mop the floor with him, and his -5000 price is not inaccurate by my lights. He is the 35th-ranked lightweight, Zamarripa is #77.

The last match with posted odds is the closest-on-paper (and probably closest-in-real-life) match on the card. Jonathan Rodriguez is the 21st-ranked bantamweight and sports a record of 17-1-1, and Antonio Vargas is 28th-ranked and is 17-1.

This match is anticipated to be close: Vargas is -180, Rodriguez +150. I think there's value in Rodriguez at the number, which I took. Vargas is the hometown kid whose last six fights have all taken place at this venue, but I like Rodriguez' resume slightly better (and so does Boxrec, whose algorithm voodoo places him those 7 spots higher), namely, his last fight. In that fight, he knocked out Khalid Yafai in the very first round. Yafai won the WBC World Super Fly belt in 2016, and then defended it five times. His loss to Rodriguez was only the second of his career, and he retired afterwards.

That is just a damn impressive result for Rodriguez, and as I said, I am taking him at +150 and I am parlaying Berlanga, Cruz, and Giyasov at -303.

Enjoy the fights, everyone!

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