Stock Watch for All of Boxing's Biggest Stars
Investing your time and money into following the career of a fighter is akin to what the money men do on Wall Street; it’s always important to look for the best bet, and it’s often not what stock you’ve put your hard-earned currency into, but when.
With that in mind, here is a look at 10 of boxing’s biggest stars. After reading this forecast, you’ll know if you should be buying, selling or holding your fan investment in their careers based on the most important near-future factors.
The most important criteria is how highly valued a fighter is currently in the sport of boxing today, as well as how much more value a fighter is forecasted to obtain during the next two years. Other criteria include forecasting a fighter’s market success, historical impact and his overall success within current and future weight divisions.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0, 26 KOs)
Blue-chipper Floyd Mayweather is the premiere force in boxing today. Not only is the 147-pound superstar the top ranked boxer in the world, but he’s also the biggest earner. In fact, according to a recent report by Sports Illustrated, Mayweather is the highest earning athlete in the world of sports.
The May 4 welterweight title bout with Robert Guerrero brought Mayweather a guaranteed purse of $32 million, with his pay-per-view cut yielding at least another $13 million. Once he gets a similar payday for his Sept. 14 fight, likely against Saul (Canelo) Alvarez, he should hit $90 million in 2013 earnings. From two matches alone Mayweather, 36, stands to make nearly as much as Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander will from his five-year, $140 million extension.
Mayweather appears to be a no-lose investment.
Mayweather is the Apple or the Google of the sport of boxing. He’s the best at what he does and he’s well-valued for it. But Mayweather is so far on top of the game that he has nowhere to go but down. If you’re not already part of The Money Team, then you shouldn’t buy in now.
Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs)
Andre Ward shellacked linear light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson last year in probably his most impressive win to date. The super middleweight kingpin did more than just out-point the larger man; he absolutely demolished him.
After the fight, Ward rightfully vaulted into the upper echelon of numerous pound-for-pound lists.
He’s been inactive since, though. In January, Ward had surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder. He’s been on the shelf now for what seems like forever; however, he’s been angling for a lucrative matchup against giant-sized middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for his return bout later this year.
Ward is 29, so it’s likely his peak is still ahead of him. Should he come back to full force after surgery, he should at least maintain his status as the likely heir to Floyd Mayweather’s pound-for-pound throne.
Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs)
Marquez looked fantastic in his KO win over nemesis Manny Pacquiao. Always a great technician with superb combination punching skills, he now suddenly possessed sublime one-punch power to go along with it.
For Marquez and his fans, the definitive win proved beyond a shadow of the doubt which fighter should have gotten the nod in their three previous tussles.
Typically, fight fans who are not already on board with a 39-year-old legend wouldn’t want to jump on the ship now, but this case may be different. Marquez looked better than he ever had last December, and a September bout against undefeated welterweight Timothy Bradley should give him yet another year to bask in the limelight.
Why? Because a fighter like Timothy Bradley is made-to-order for a brilliant combination puncher like Marquez. Bradley has very limited power and uses mostly a tough chin and old-fashioned gumption to get past his opponents. It won’t work.
Sergio Martinez 51-2-2 (28)
The linear middleweight champ Martinez has had a brilliant career.
After rising from a relatively obscure background, Martinez has given boxing fans some of the most memorable moments of the last few years. His 2010 knockout of Paul Williams will maintain its legendary status on highlight reels for some time, and his get-off-the-canvas decision win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was an impressive finish.
Fighters who rely on speed and quickness as well as an unorthodox approach like Martinez often do not age well. Martinez will likely be no exception. Look for the 38-year-old Martinez to decline rapidly, if he should even make it back from his numerous ailments at all.
Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs)
Manny Pacquiao’s stock has taken quite the tumble lately. While he was once regarded as a legitimate threat to Floyd Mayweather’s top dog status both inside the ring and out, his December knockout loss to nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez has dropped him down to mere mortal status.
Pacquiao is scheduled to face tough guy Brandon Rios in November. Should he be victorious, conventional wisdom assumes he’ll face the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Timothy Bradley showdown rumored to be on for September. But are Pacquiao’s best days behind him?
To the untrained eye, it might appear time for any respectable portfolio-holder to dump his interest in Manny Pacquiao. Ah, but it’s wrong. You see, Brandon Rios is just what the doctor ordered for a fighter with Pacquiao’s skills, and a renewed interest in training could land the Filipino right back near the top of pound-for-pound rankings.
Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51 KOs)
Reaching 60 wins last month against Francesco Pianeta as a heavyweight champion put Wladimir Klitschko in rarefied air. While the giant-sized technician isn’t considered by purists the linear champion of the division, no one would dispute his top spot among heavyweight fighters today.
Moreover, Klitschko holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO title belts. That's no small feat.
Klitschko’s career compares quite favorably to other all-time great heavyweights. His impressive record and high knockout percentage should keep him in the discussion of top heavyweight titlists, historically speaking, for years to come.
Despite all this, Klitschko has remained relatively underappreciated. Neither HBO nor Showtime, the top broadcasters in the United States, regularly show his title defenses, and he’s been mostly ignored as a legitimate entry to the upper echelons of pound-for-pound lists.
Frankly, it’s time for folks to buy into Wladimir Klitschko before it’s too late.
Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs)
Make no mistake: Bernard Hopkins is an all-time great. He’s outlasted all of his peers, and he’s even starting to outlast some of the guys who aren’t his peers. It’s truly amazing stuff from a surefire Hall of Famer. At age 48, Hopkins out-foxed Tavoris Cloud earlier this year to prove once again how you should never, ever doubt his ability to overcome the odds.
Regardless, Father Time will catch up to Hopkins sooner or later. While it might not happen against his very next opponent, Karo Murat of Germany, it will happen before he gets to age 50. Right?
Honestly, it’s a tough call, but ultimately the smart money is on Hopkins looking old eventually, especially because…well…he’s just old.
Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs)
Poor Nonito Donaire. The Filipino Flash went from accepting his 2012 BWAA Fighter of the Year award to looking woefully unprepared for a top 122-pound contender in a matter of mere days. Guillermo Rigondeaux didn’t win some boxing fans and media over with his careful style, but he clearly bested Donaire with sharp counterpunching and slick defense.
Still, Donaire didn’t look his best that night. He was unusually tentative, and he seemed unprepared for the puzzle Rigondeaux presented him with. Whether he was doomed from the get-go remains unclear.
More clear, though, is that Donaire, age 30, remains supremely gifted as a fighter, and that there are not many other boxers running around out there who boast Rigondeaux’s skill set.
Is Rigondeaux just that great? Did Donaire just have an off night? Could this kind of loss galvanize Donaire to become more focused than ever? There are just too many questions at this point.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs)
Junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux mesmerized perennial pound-for-pound superstar Nonito Donaire in only his 12th professional fight earlier this year. That should tell you just how special this Cuban defector is as a top-level talent. Before the fight, Rigo’s manager, Gary Hyde, claimed a “Rigolution” was coming to boxing.
He was right.
Rigondeaux is one of the more talented fighters to ever lace up the gloves. His southpaw stance and unrivaled amateur credentials make him as close to a sure thing as anyone could possibly be.
While he’s already 32 and has shown to be a bit chinny at times (e.g., he was knocked to the floor by Donaire during their tussle), he should only improve as he continues to adjust to the professional game.
Be smart, and join the “Rigolution” while you still can, folks.
Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs)
Like little brother Wladimir, Vitali Klitschko has had one of the more impressive heavyweight careers in history. Despite being away from boxing for almost four years, Klitschko has proven to be as dominant a champion as ever. He holds the WBC heavyweight title, and his two career losses do nothing to diminish his legacy.
In 2000, a shoulder injury stopped him against Chris Byrd. In 2003, Lennox Lewis stopped Klitschko on cuts. In both the outings, Klitschko was well up on the scorecards.
Still, forecasting is about the future, and Vitali Klitschko is at the end of his career. At age 41, Klitschko can’t help but be thinking about retiring from his boxing career to focus on his political ambitions. A potential bout against Bermane Stiverne could be his very last, no matter what the outcome.
If you weren’t in on Vitali Klitschko by now, you missed it.