Fight night pinnacle of betting 'storm'

Updated: September 13, 2013, 5:36 PM ET
By David Purdum | Special to ESPN.com

The stage is set for the biggest betting weekend in Las Vegas. Tens of millions of dollars will change hands -- and that's just on the sold-out title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

Sportsbooks will be packed, bookmakers are excited and bettors are calling ahead to see how much they can get down on the weekend's featured events.

Add in a college football slate highlighted by the most anticipated game of the season, Alabama at Texas A&M, and an NFL schedule capped by a prime-time showdown between Super Bowl contenders San Francisco and Seattle, and you have what 30-year Vegas veteran bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro calls "the perfect storm."

"In all my years, I've never seen a schedule that sets up so perfectly for betting," said Vaccaro, now working for the sportsbook at the South Point casino. "You can't put together a schedule like this. It just happens, and when it does, it's definitely good for business. It's going to be off the charts."

The money already has been flowing in on the fight. Most books are reporting holding about four times more bets on the underdog Alvarez than Mayweather. But the big money is on the undefeated champion, Mayweather, who is about a minus-270 favorite.

"We've already taken a couple of six-figure bets on the fight. And I'm expecting many more of those," said Jay Rood, vice president of MGM Race and Sports. "All of those are on Mayweather, but we've had a ton of smaller bets come in on the underdog [Alvarez]."

Rood estimates the total amount bet on the fight at his sportsbook will be around $10 million, comparable to what a Mike Tyson fight generated when the former heavyweight champion was in his prime.

Lou D'Amico, who ran the sportsbook at Caesars Palace during boxing's prime in the 1980s, agrees with Rood's estimate and said $10 million was the number bet at his shop on a big fight like the Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvin Hagler bout in 1987.

The Alabama-A&M game won't generate as much betting handle as the fight, but there's still plenty of buzz. The Crimson Tide are eight-point favorites, but that could change before the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff in College Station, Texas. Rood has received calls he says make him believe the line will grow.

"We've had quite a few inquiries from hosts of players coming into town wanting to know what they can get," Rood said. "If even half of that money shows up, we're going to have quite of bit of money, and it looks like most of it is going to fall on Alabama."

If there's any money left over, the Sunday NFL card certainly will attract plenty of it. Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill's U.S. sportsbooks, estimates the 49ers-Seahawks game will draw about half as much betting action as the fight.

"That game is phenomenal, with arguably the two best teams in the NFL right now," Bogdanovich said. "Plus, it's the last game of the day [8:30 p.m. ET], so everyone's either chasing their money or pressing up their winnings. That handle's always monstrous, but the fight will outdo that game."

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