Bettor Billy Baxter recounts his most memorable bets on the boxing ring.
Billy Baxter has never taken a punch in the ring. But he has made plenty of money from boxing. Having gambled on sports for more than 50 years, 74-year-old Baxter ranks among the most astute boxing bettors in Las Vegas. Beyond that, he managed Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s uncle, Roger, for much of the fighter’s 18-year-long career. It was a good run for Baxter, but not nearly as good a run as Floyd would have been. “Floyd’s daddy was in prison, he called me up and said, ‘Since you did such a good job with Roger, maybe you’d want to manage Little Floyd,’” remembers Baxter. “I told him that I was getting out of the boxing business and would pass. Had I said yes, maybe I would be managing Floyd Mayweather right now.”
Gargantuan paydays aside, Baxter points out that the undefeated Mayweather has been good to him. “I’ve never lost money betting on Floyd and neither has anybody else,” he says, rebuffing a request for a tip on the upcoming fight. “At the moment, I am keeping my pick for this one a secret.”
Here are three boxing tales that Baxter happily chats about.
In the Blood
“Floyd’s uncle, Roger, was a great fighter. I used to go the old policeman’s gym, downtown, to check out the boxers and see who I liked for betting purposes. Everybody trained there. One day I saw this kid who looked very good. I asked who he was. He turned out to be Roger Mayweather. He had no manager but was looking for one. So I signed him up. By his 13th match, we were fighting at the Atlantic City Convention Hall and he won his first title. I managed him to the point where he lost his title and I thought it was time for Roger to give up on boxing.”
“Back in the old days there used to be weekly club fights at the old Silver Slipper. My friend Tommy Fisher and I used to bet $300 on every fight. We’d take turns setting odds for each match and the other guy could take the odds or lay them. The fights lasted four rounds and we would set the odds after the first round. This one fight came up and it was Tommy’s turn to make the price. The losing fighter was just getting killed. He had a bloody nose and it didn’t even look like he would get up. Tommy wasn’t thinking and he gave 300-to-1 odds on him winning. I immediately took the odds–it would be $90,000 if my man won. The second round was close, the third round went to my guy, and Tommy panicked about potentially losing $90,000 on a $300 wager. He gave me $20,000 to call off the bet. Then his guy wound up winning the fight.”
"I bet a famous bookie $75,000 that the Wilfred Benitez vs. Sugar Ray Leonard fight, at Caesars Palace, would go the distance. In Las Vegas, when there are 10 seconds left in a round, the ring-post lights would go on. There was a rule that if you got knocked out with 10-seconds [or less] to go in a fight, it didn’t count as a knock-out. Leonard was getting to Benitez, but, toward the end of the fight, I remember seeing those lights go on. I stood up and shouted, ‘I win it! I win it!’ Then, with six seconds remaining, the ref stepped in and stopped the fight. I guess the ref thought that Benitez had had enough. He found the only possible way for me to lose my bet on that fight: for him to stop it. That was cold blooded. If Benitez got knocked out and never moved again, I would have won my bet. But the ref had to stop the fight and cost me $75,000.”