Steve Perry is thinking like a competitor or more accurately an odds maker who has to create some sort of a gambling wager to pull in some revenue for his casino. With Perry's own Olympic accomplishments behind him he should be thinking more about legacy and meaning rather than a simple bet prediction.
Here is his set-up, ...err, his premise from BBC Sport:
"...Everyone seems to be talking about those two but they have both come out recently and said, 'Hold on a minute, the guy who's looking amazing is Ryan Lochte'.
So there is the potential for the media to be focusing on the wrong people.
Lochte was the first guy ever to break a world record unaided by a suit and took Phelps out in two of Phelps' main events at the World Championships earlier this year, the 200m freestyle and the 200m medley.[...]As for Thorpe, it is remarkable what he is doing. He has been trying to quell expectation but I don't think he's quelling it enough - I can't describe how big a struggle it is going to be for him.[Link]
Michael Phelps, 500-years from now, will probably be the only Olympian history will remember; That is if the Olympics are remembered at all. In the near term, beating Ian Thorpe is way more significant an accomplishment legacy-wise than beating Ryan Lochte. Phelps beating Lochte and winning a gold medal holds no meaning here - He's won gold medals 8-times in a row; what is there for him to prove? It only means a soon-to-be-retired-great was beaten while simply honoring the final years of his contract.
Enter Ian Thorpe: How many times has the great Michael Phelps out touched, out raced, or out lasted Ian Thorpe? The answer is never; not even on a relay. That is where the real legacy issue lies.
If by some miracle Ian Thorpe steps up and out touches Michael Phelps, there will always be that asterisk, that footnote, the glaring historical fact that Michael Phelps was never able to beat an Australian by the name of Ian Thorpe.
This could be the "Rocky" moment of 2012 and/or the bragging rights for who was the greatest freestyle swimmer ever.