Just how much liability do the sports books face with Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather?

Just how much liability do the sports books face with Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather?

(This is the second installment of a three-part series on the gambling aspect of the “The Money Fight” between boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC champ Conor McGregor. Check out Part 1.)

If Conor McGregor, a man who despite a championship MMA career, has never been paid to put on boxing gloves, somehow manages to beat undefeated, five-division boxing world champ Floyd Mayweather at his own game on Aug. 26, it will go down as one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

But in that instance, believe it or not, Mayweather (49-0 boxing) might not be the biggest loser. After all, the 40-year-old retired pug will have a possible $300-million-plus purse to assuage any humiliation. And of course underdog fish-out-of-octagon McGregor really has nothing to lose (and a reported $100-million-plus to gain). The people who might be sweating the outcome of “The Money Fight” from a financial standpoint are those who ply their trade in a different kind of cage – that of the Vegas sportsbook cashier.

A contest between mismatched opponents can be a dream for bettors, either looking to score a little scratch on a sure thing, or drop a pittance with long hopes of scoring big on an upset. But those same conditions make lopsided fights an uneasy proposition for sportsbooks. Bookmakers want to accurately handicap the event, but if they lay odds that favor a competitor too much, all the action will go to the underdog. And if that dog then shocks the world, the house might not have enough money to cover its losses.

Twenty years ago when unknown James “Buster” Douglas upended the boxing world by knocking out then-undefeated Mike Tyson, no bettors got rich – because almost no bookmakers had taken bets on the seeming farce.

Douglas was a 42-1 underdog in that 1990 fight. Today, the odds against McGregor are only around 5 to 1. Still, sportsbooks and bettors are watching the lines closely.

“In terms of true odds, Mayweather should be a much greater favorite,” Todd Fuhrman, gaming insider for Fox Sports and CBS, told MMAjunkie. “But sportsbooks can only incur so much liability. As is, books in Vegas are facing a high-six-figure, low-seven-figure liability…