Boxing Odds and Best Bets: Top Picks for Rodriguez vs. Lopez, Navarrete vs. Valdez, Joshua vs. Helenius (Saturday, August 12)
Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images. Pictured: Boxers Emanuel Navarrete and Oscar Valdez
Check out our boxing best bets and the latest odds for Saturday night's big tripleheader on Showtime, ESPN and DAZN.
It's a potentially glorious and stupid week in boxing.
We've got Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Melvin Lopez, Emanuel Navarrete vs. Oscar Valdez, and Anthony Joshua vs. Robert Helenius all tonight.
We have three fights worth betting on – two of them for world titles and one that … eye roll … emphatically is not.
Let's jump into the boxing breakdowns and predictions, including Rodriguez vs. Lopez and Navarrete vs. Valdez.
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Melvin Lopez
Manny Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KOs) is one of the most underrated boxers on earth, and he's in the discussion for best bantamweight in the world with Naoya Inoue moving up a weight class.
Rodriguez's only real loss was a second-round knockout to Inoue in May 2019, when he lost the IBF bantamweight title he won one year prior. The split-decision loss to Raymart Gaballo in December 2020 is one of the absolute worst robberies of the last 10 years – and I'm dead serious.
The 31-year-old is a -700 favorite over fellow contender Melvin Lopez (29-1, 19 KOs), and for good reason. Rodriguez is more accomplished at the weight and is coming off a wide technical decision schooling over Gary Antonio Russell, who entered as a 2-to-1 favorite (that was easy underdog money), last October.
Who will take home the vacant IBF Bantamweight World Title? 🏆
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) August 11, 2023
Lopez, 25, is getting his first title shot. The Nicaraguan will try to make it a brawl against the slick, counter-punching Puerto Rican Rodriguez, who has a 1.5-inch shorter reach – the same deficit he faced against Gaballo.
Lopez isn't nearly as skilled and unless you think he's catching Rodriguez and knocking him out, he's not worth an underdog sprinkle.
The safest bet here is Rodriguez by decision is at -135, but I'm taking a chance. I think Rodriguez breaks down Lopez over the course of the fight and earns a late stoppage. So, as of this writing, I'm looking at Group Round Betting on FanDuel and taking Rodriguez to win by KO/TKO at +650 in Rounds 9-12.
It feels like a feasible long shot. Personally, I also have him at +420 to win between 7-12, for good measure.
Emanuel Navarrete vs. Oscar Valdez
This is the fight of the night on Saturday's boxing schedule.
The champion, Emanuel Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs), is actually the underdog. He's a big-bodied super featherweight who won the super bantamweight championship in his first bout away from Mexico in December 2018.
He reigned at 122 pounds for five title defenses in a less than two-year span before winning his first featherweight strap in October 2020. He had three successful defenses. Navarette, 28, then moved to 130 pounds and won the vacant WBO title in February, a title vacated by Shakur Stevenson, the only man to beat Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs).
We could at least name Valdez's only loss; Navarette's came in 2012.
Valdez, 32, was a very hyped prospect and quickly rose to a title in 2016, less than four years after his pro debut, and he held the WBO featherweight title from July 2016 until moving to super featherweight over three years later. Valdez was the WBC champion there until losing a wide decision to Stevenson in April 2022.
Valdez is the favorite because he's the better technical boxer, but the odds are close because Navarette is stronger, fights bigger and has, not just a 1.5-inch height advantage, but a six-inch (!!) reach-edge.
I didn't love how Navarrete looked against Liam Wilson in February, including where he got dropped in Round 4, but did get off the canvas to earn a Round 9 TKO.
COMEBACK COMPLETE 🇲🇽🤠
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) February 4, 2023
He looked sloppy and had subpar conditioning, winning due to his better skill and power over an inferior challenger who made it a very close fight.
Even so, Valdez has been dropped four times in his career, including to Stevenson, who isn't a power puncher.
My lean has been Valdez on points because I tend to go with the better all-around boxer, but I could see this going the other way – and by KO, if Valdez struggles to navigate Navarrete's pressure.
I don't trust Navarrete's conditioning, and while he'll have moments, I'll trust the skill and level of Valdez in a close one.
The Bet: Oscar Valdez by points or decision (+140 at bet365)
Anthony Joshua vs. Robert Helenius
I mean, seriously?
This sucks, but it's Anthony Joshua, and I love boxing – and betting – so I'm going to talk about it.
Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) was originally supposed to rematch Dillian Whyte, a sequel to their entertaining 2015 clash for the British, Commonwealth and WBC international heavyweight titles while both were undefeated blue-chippers. Joshua won with a seventh-round TKO.
Whyte, who arguably should've lost or at least drew with recent Joshua foe Jermaine Franklin last year, secured this rematch – and then tested positive for a banned substance.
So, on short notice, Joshua's new opponent is secured. It wasn't any of the other six heavyweights already on the card, including undefeated rising contenders Filip Hrgovic or Dempsey McKean. It wasn't former title challengers Gerald Washington or Derek Chisora.
No, the opponent is Robert Helenius (32-4, 21 KOs).
ANTHONY JOSHUA PUTS IT ON ROBERT HELENIUS AT THE FINAL FACE-OFF 😲
Who wins and how? 👀
— IFL TV (@IFLTV) August 11, 2023
The same Helenius who is perhaps now most known for being knocked out by Deontay Wilder last October in the first round (on Wilder's third landed punch!) of their fight.
The same Helenius who was knocked out by the above-mentioned Washington – who has five career losses, all by knockout – four years ago.
The same Helenius who was outboxed by Whyte, losing nearly every round almost six years ago.
And this same Helenius just won a fight this past Saturday at a 15th-century three-tower castle in Finland!
I wish I were making this up.
Anyway, Joshua should blow Helenius out of the water. Helenius has been knocked out in the first, sixth and eighth rounds in his career.
Bet Joshua by KO/TKO within the first six rounds, which is -110 as of this writing; the KO straight-up is at -390 and not offering much of a payout, though it's a solid parlay option.
If Joshua loses this, he should retire on the spot.