Saturday, 25 November 2017 07:34

Kovalev vs Shabranskyy betting lines ignore the intangibles?

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Tonight, former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KO) faces long shot Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KO) for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title.


Even many of the sport's hardcore junkies aren't familiar with Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. And apparently, bookies aren't either.

Kovalev vs Shabranskyy betting lines
As of Saturday morning, Sergey is a massive 1/25 favorite while Shabranskyy is a 10/1 underdog. Hence, a successful $100 wager on Kovalev would yield $4 while the same successful bet on Shabranskyy would produce $1,000.

The odds for a draw or Shabranskyy decision win are 33 to 1 while Sergey is 2/9 to win via a stoppage and 4/1 to win by decision. Thus, a winning $100 bet on Kovalev to end the fight within the distance would produce about $22.22.

So who is Vyacheslav Shabranskyy?
Slightly taller than Kovalev, the 30 year old, 6'3" Shabranskyy hails from Zhytomyr, Ukraine and boasts an 80 percent knockouts-to-fights ratio.

His reach is two and a half inches longer than Kovalev's, and he has a good record and impressive KO-to-fights ratio so why are the betting lines so heavy against Vyacheslav?

Answer: The only name opponent on his resume is Sullivan Barrera who KO'd him last year. That stated, there's no shame in being beaten by Sullivan Barrera. In fact, after being floored in the opening round, Shabranskyy came back to put Barrera on the canvas in Round 2. Both Barrera and Shabranskyy would maintain a high activity rate but Barrera's speed, power and overall poise were ultimately too much for Shabranskyy who succumbed in Round 7.

But back to Kovalev's edge...
Shabranskyy's amateur background isn't nearly as deep as Kovalev's.

And Kovalev has a massive advantage in level of opposition and big-fight experience, and boasts the kind of elite-level speed, power and overall polish Shabranskyy might be vulnerable to.

Intangibles: Reasons for an upset or Kovalev decision verdict?
Kovalev is a massive favorite for good reason. But if you're looking for why Shabranskyy could pull off the upset or hang in there all 12 rounds, there are a few reasons. For starters, Sergey is working with a new team of trainers and you never know how a fighter will react to something new. He's done things a certain way for so long. If his current trainers have taught him something new and it's not second nature yet, it could serve as a weakness.

Second, Shabranskyy seems to have decent power and a pretty good chin. Yes, he was stopped by Barrera but it was the result of an accumulation of blows from a strong, well-schooled opponent. If Kovalev hurts him and attempts to close the show with little regard for Shabranskyy's power, a sneaky shot or two from the underdog could make things interesting.

And lastly, Kovalev has lost his last two fights, the first and only defeats of his career. As a result, will we see the same confidence and swagger we saw in Sergey before?  Fight legend Roy Jones, Jr was never the same after losing his rematch to Antonio Tarver. In fact, Jones would be KO'd in his return bout by then little-known Glen Johnson.

Boxing can be such a mental game. 

Prediction: Kovalev KO 7 Shabranskyy

Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.