Every once in a while, an athletic commission will approve a bout involving one fighter who is manifestly unqualified to be in the ring, relative to the abilities of his opponent.
On Saturday night, we have such a case.
Frank Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champion, will make his professional boxing debut as he steps in against Steve Cunningham, a former cruiserweight boxing titleholder.
It is ticketed for the undercard of the Jake Paul-Ben Askren main event taking place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Here are the boxing betting odds as they are posted at BetAnySports:
Steve Cunningham -1488
Frank Mir +1012
Under 3.5 Rounds -160
Over 3.5 Rounds +140
Most sports fans will remember that Conor McGregor, another UFC champion, fought “hands only” for the first time as a pro against Floyd Mayweather, and some truly castigated the Nevada State Athletic Commission for their part in sanctioning that.
Those observers who were loyal to the sport of boxing made the claim that Mayweather “carried” McGregor, which was the only thing that kept Conor in the fight.
Is that the kind of thing that will make this one look semi-competitive?
First, let’s go over a couple of differences between Mir and McGregor. One is that while McGregor more or less made his living in the UFC by hitting people in the face with his fists, and also had engaged as an amateur boxer in his youth, Mir has had none of that in his background. He is a wrestler and jiu-jitsu fighter through and through.
And Mir must think he is in a wrestling match,as he weighed in for this at 276 pounds, which gives him a 70-pound weight “advantage” over Cunningham.
That may work against him in the end. There is no Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu allowed in this fight. And he won’t be able to wrestle Cunningham to the ground – not legally, anyway.
Cunningham’s pro boxing record is 29-9-1 with 13 knockouts. He’s been in nine world championship fights, and has had two separate reigns as IBF cruiserweight champion. As a heavyweight, he has boxed a draw with Antonio Tarver, who was originally slated to be Mir’s opponent but was turned away by the Georgia commission because of a combination of his age (52) and inactivity.
He has also done something quite notable, for purposes of our current discussion. In April 2013 in Madison Square Garden he fought Tyson Fury – a current heavyweight champion – and floored him in the second round, as he was giving up 44 pounds. Ultimately Fury wore him down and stopped him in the seventh round. But it gives you an idea of the legitimacy of his skill set.
While it is true that Cunningham is 44 years old and hasn’t fought since 2017, he is an in-shape 44-year-old, to be sure. And he’s got his own comic book LOL. yes he does.
Meanwhile, Mir is 41, and that is a hell of a time to start boxing.
he is perhaps best known for beating Brock Lesnar in the Octagon. Well, that doesn’t mean a damn thing here. Neither does his MMA record, which, by the way, is 19-13.
On the other hand, maybe that record DOES matter in a way. I notice that Mir has suffered nine of his losses through punches. Ouch! Always keep in mind that essential to boxing is not only the ability to deliver punches, but the ability to defend them AND take them on the chin.
And he’ll be fighting someone who’s been a world-class expert at doing all that.
This matchup, on the level, really shouldn’t go too long. And there is no reason for me to believe it isn’t going to be on the level. I have to admit, I do wonder whether Cunningham will carry him for a while, but I don’t know if he wants to even give a chance for a 276-pound guy to swing wildly and hit him with something, or break his arm in a clinch (hey, Tyson bit an ear; who wants to risk it?).
It’s not the most inviting price on Cunningham. But it is inconceivable to me that he could lose this to a beginner. And it’s a 5% return in one night – better than any bank, right? The “under” on the distance prop might also get a little play, although I’d be a bit nervous about it.
If you go to BetAnySports, you’ll see updated odds on a number of big upcoming fights. That includes Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Arreola-Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury……..And of course, when you talking about real-time wagering on sports, you’re talking about Sports Betting Prime…… Open up an account using your debit card, credit card, person-to-person transfers or the virtual currency of Bitcoin, which is fast and easy with their automated system and NEVER incurs a transaction fee!