There’s nothing the bookies like more than a “what if” candidate in a seemingly one-sided contest.
Conor McGregor took to the ring for his first professional fight this weekend against a man who is destined to go down in the record books for his achievements in the ring, winning all 50 of his professional bouts.
McGregor’s UFC record preceded him, 21 wins in 24 fights, 18 by knock out, and after a fiery build up punters started thinking the impossible could be possible.
As Matthew d’Ancona wrote in the Standard, “if the pundits were wrong about Brexit, Hilary Clinton and Jeremy Corbyn, why should they be right about a boxing match in which a single, perfectly aimed blow could make a mockery of prediction?”
But alas it wasn’t to be.
Floyd Mayweather won by technical knockout in the tenth round and departed with a purse thought to be in excess of $100 million. But even he wasn’t the big winner.
According to post-match data bookies cashed in on an estimated £200 million in bets.
Dublin-headquartered Paddy Power Betfair revealed ahead of the match that 80 per cent of all bets taken had been on McGregor, meaning the bookie saved millions of pounds on potential payouts to its countryman’s backers.
Paddy Power was one of the biggest risers in the FTSE 100 early this morning, opening up more than one per cent in the first market day since the match.
Meanwhile its US-listed operations received an upgrade from Zacks Investment Research from “sell” to “hold”.
The total saved by British bookies thanks to Mayweather’s win is estimated to be around £250 million, Business Insider has reported, paying out £50 million rather than a possible £300 million.