Boxing Stock Watch: Who's Rising and Who's Falling?

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2013

Boxing Stock Watch: Who's Rising and Who's Falling?

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    In the stock market, a company's value is determined by a kind of group consensus. The so-called experts analyze the company's track record and try to project it's future possibilities for success. They decide whether or not they want to buy or sell the stock and if enough of them start buying the same company at the same time, the company's stock rockets in value.

    Sometimes, a stock nearly everyone viewed as a sure thing ends up being a bust, losing value overnight. Other times, an overlooked little gem can come out of nowhere to capture major market shares and explode in value. Anybody who knew enough to buy early is left looking smart.

    Projecting fighter success and glory is not entirely different. Boxing fans love to be early adopters for rising stars, or else, the wise guys who knew to sell off in advance of an overhyped contender's inevitable crash.    

Danny Garcia

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    If Danny Garcia were a stock, his prospectus would show a solid, well-run company that efficiently produces a quality product or service. But this is a company that is competing in a very crowded market place.

    Garcia is the WBC and WBA junior welterweight champion and his destruction of Amir Khan to unify the belts last July made him one of the brightest young stars in the sport. But Garcia has followed that big breakthrough moment with victories over Erik Morales and Zab Judah, neither of which is the sort of win that inflates a fighter's resume anymore.

    If fans are looking for talent, 140 pounds is a weight class loaded with talent and probably a majority of them now view Lucas Matthysse as the true boss there, in the wake of his Round 3 TKO of Lamont Peterson earlier this year.

    If Garcia faces off with Matthysse this fall, like boxing fans everywhere are hoping he will, then he will have the opportunity to make his stock among the most valuable in the sport.

    But there's also a good chance that a Matthysse barrage will send it crashing to the canvas, along with Garcia's body.

Timothy Bradley

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    Instead of a stock, it might actually be more accurate to compare Timothy Bradley to a U.S. Treasury bond. He's a steady and consistent winner. You can't go wrong buying up shares to sock away for your retirement fund.

    But he's probably not the bold, exciting investment that is going to allow you to retire on your own private island at 35.

    In his thrilling, 12-round war with Ruslan Provodnikov last March, Bradley demonstrated that he's capable of participating in an exciting, fan-friendly fight. He also demonstrated that he's nearly impossible to knock out, but that he lacks fight-ending power himself.

    There are very few welterweight fighters whom I would favor to beat Bradley. The great Juan Manuel Marquez will have his hands full with him in the fall.

    At the same time, a lack of elite punching power will very likely prevent Bradley from ever stepping up to the very top of the pound-for-pound rankings.  

Guillermo Rigondeaux

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    Guillermo Rigondeaux would be that company that was launched with fanfare and hype. He's been labeled as can't-miss from the start.

    The Nonito Donaire fight would represent his Initial Public Offering (IPO), and man did he blow up. Donaire was a fighter most rated as a pound-for-pound top five and Rigondeaux handed him a boxing lesson. At this point, Rigondeaux has established himself as one of the most technically solid boxers on the planet.

    Rigondeaux fights at super bantamweight right now, and based on his height and frame, I am not sure he could fight much higher than 126 or 130. So even though I expect him to keep winning, his stock might have reached its peak, due to a lack of major fights to push it higher.

    Still, expect to see Rigondeaux perched near the top of the Dow Jones Index for years to come.  

Manny Pacquiao

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    If Manny Pacquiao were a stock, he would have been one of the elite performers of the past two decades. But the boxing world is an ever-changing market place, and there is much debate over whether or not Pacquiao is still a blue-chip stock.

    Even before getting knocked out in his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez last December, Pacquiao's stock had been on the decline. He had lost a split decision to Timothy Bradley in June, and though very few fans or writers felt he had deserved to lose, there was no question that Bradley had managed to slow him down considerably.

    And many felt Pac had deserved to lose in his third fight with Marquez, in November 2011, when he had escaped with a majority decision.

    Against Marquez last December, Pacquiao looked like his old self during much of the fight. He was quick on his feet and explosive with his attacks. But any time an elite prize fighter ends the night asleep on his face, his stock is going to take a plunge.

    Pacquiao's upcoming fight with Brandon Rios in China will be a historic night for boxing, as the sport holds a major event in the world's most populated nation for the first time ever. Whether or not it will be the night that Pacquiao's stock regains its glowing luster is another thing entirely.

    Rios should make it an extremely exciting fight. But a victory over him, even an exciting one, will be unlikely to win back those currently on the fence over Pacquiao. Rios is an extremely durable fighter with a thrilling style, but his defense is suspect.

    If Pacquaio struggles at all with Rios, it will be viewed as further proof of his decline.

Brandon Rios

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    If Brandon Rios was a stock you thought looked promising, now would be the perfect time to start snapping up shares. Even though he is coming off from the first loss of his career, by unanimous decision to Mike Alvarado last March, he is all set to get the opportunity of a lifetime this fall, when he steps into the ring against Manny Pacquiao.

    The boxing world has grown accustomed to expecting an old -brawl when Rios gets in the ring. It's a reputation he revels in.

    “I really do love these kind of fights,” he told me, when I interviewed him by phone before the Alvarado fight. “I love to get in there and see who can give one and who can take one.”

    Rios' enthusiasm is infectious and accounts for his rising popularity. Fans can tell he truly loves the fight game.

    Rios has built his reputation as a take-no-prisoners slugger, but he has an extensive amateur background and is trained by Robert Garcia, perhaps the top active trainer in the sport. He thrives on trading leather in the pocket, but I think he probably has more boxing skills to fall back on than people generally think.

    Fans are always going to want to see a Brandon Rios fight. He likely won't win against Pacquiao, but just making a better showing than expected will make sure that his stock continues to rise. 

Adrien Broner

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    Adrien Broner's stock has been much hyped, and quickly bought, during his young career. With a perfect 26-0 record and 22 KOs, it's no mystery why. If he can beat Paul Malignaggi when they fight for his WBA welterweight title later in June, it will make Broner a three-division world champion, at only 23.

    Still, like many hot, new stocks, actual performance for Broner may not end up corresponding exactly to the golden projections being put out for him. Broner should have too much speed and power for Malignaggi, but the crafty "Magic Man" could cause plenty of problems for Broner, who is jumping two weight classes to fight at 147.

    Long-term, Broner's stock should be strong. It's built on the solid foundation of tremendous natural talent and well-trained skill. But if he falters at all with Malignaggi, which is a possibility, that stock might hit a temporary stall on its inevitable climb.  

Sergio Martinez

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    Even the highest-performing stocks in the index can plummet when the market shifts as they  are not fundamentally equipped to adjust and continue thriving. In my opinion, that's what we are seeing with Sergio Martinez, who is coming off a very unconvincing performance against the tough, but hardly brilliant, Martin Murray.

    It was a fight Martinez might not even have won, if a knockdown had been correctly ruled against him. By the time he returns to action, Martinez will have undergone yet another major surgery, and he will be 39.

    Martinez fights with the sort of athletic style that can vanish quickly on a fighter when he reaches the back end of his 30s. He's been among the great pound-for-pound fighters of the past decade, but the version of himself that he showed against Murray would not have finished the night against Gennady Golovkin.

    I'm not sure he would have been able to hold up against Peter Quillin, or even Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, for that matter.

    Like any once-great stock, Martinez will retain true believers until the end. They'll corner the market on him now and wait for the big relaunch, when Maravilla will triumphantly return to the top.  

Gennady Golovkin

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    My own portfolio has been full of Gennady Golovkin stock since I attended his U.S. debut at the Turning Stone Casino, in Verona, N.Y., last September, when he stopped Grzegorz Proksa in five on HBO's Boxing After Dark.

    Since then, he has stopped the super-tough Gabriel Rosado by a Round 8 TKO and completely crushed fringe contender Nobuhiro Ishida in three. His record now stands at 26-0 with 23 KOs, and his stock continues to skyrocket.

    Some boxing observers feel Golovkin's stock has been overhyped and is due for a market adjustment. They argue that the quality of his opposition has been much less than elite.

    But for myself, I'll continue buying into GGG. I don't see him having any problems with Matthew Macklin later this June, and I would favor him against anybody else he's likely to fight over the next few years, aside from Andre Ward.  

Peter Quillin

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    Peter Quillin's stock is perfectly positioned in a shifting market to get hot and rise quickly. The undefeated WBO middleweight champion sports a 29-0 record, with 21 stoppages.

    In October 2012, he captured the WBO belt when he turned back fellow unbeaten fighter Hassan N'Dam by unanimous decision, knocking him down six times along the way. He followed that up last April by TKOing Fernando Guerrero in seven.

    On the same night that Quillin was steamrolling Guerrero, Sergio Martinez was struggling to get by Martin Murray. With Martinez's stock in decline, "Kid Chocolate" is ideally positioned to start gobbling up market shares.

    If Martinez fought Quillin the same way he fought Murray last April, I'd pick the young man, Quillin, to carry the day. I'd pick Golovkin to beat Quillin, but I wouldn't be making any bets about it that I didn't feel comfortable having to cover. It's no sure thing.

    Quillin is an athletic, explosive fighter with skill. He should remain a factor at 160 for the next several years. It's possible he will emerge as the division's top star.   

Juan Manuel Marquez

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    Juan Manuel Marquez spent most of his career as a high-performing, but undervalued, stock. Now his shares are peaking at a point when few would have predicted it.

    The truth is, at 39, Marquez has probably climbed as high as he can professionally. His Round 6 KO of longtime rival Manny Pacquiao last December will go down as among the most iconic boxing moments of this era. It propelled him to No. 3 on most pound-for-pound lists.

    I believe Marquez will get by Timothy Bradley when they face off in the fall. But that's not going to be an easy fight for him by any stretch. Bradley's physically imposing and awkward style will be tough for the counterpunching Marquez.

    I have a feeling the Bradley fight will be Marquez's last. It would be the perfect follow-up to his emphatic defeat of Pacquiao last December, following it with a victory over the fighter who controversially defeated Pacquiao in June 2012.

    The longtime accountant, Marquez, could be preparing to do what so few fighters have done over the years: retire with his stock still at an all-time high.   

Abner Mares

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    Abner Mares has been one of the most steadily developing stocks on the market over the past few years. The three-division world champion has beaten one world-class fighter after another since 2010, capturing belts at 118, 122 and 126 along the way.

    It was Mares' most recent performance on the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view which pushed his stock into the realm of the elite index. In beating Daniel Ponce De Leon by Round 9 TKO, Mares proved he was a well-rounded talent and a true pound-for-pound star.

    At 118 and 122, Mares had built a reputation as a physically imposing brawler. When challenging the larger Ponce De Leon at featherweight, he turned boxer and used skill to carry the night.

    In his backstage interview before his fight, Mares told the Showtime pay-per-view team that he was planning to use “Mexican Judo” against Ponce De Leon: “Judo know if I'm going to box and judo know if I'm going to brawl.”

    With that kind of ability to mix up his style, the 27-year-old Mares should be perfectly positioned to dominate the market for years to come.  

Mike Alvarado

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    Mike Alvarado is that corporation that quietly came out of nowhere, developing into a very hot stock indeed. Denver, Colo., is not a major boxing city by any means, but Alvarado was such a fundamentally strong stock that he's been able to make his presence known in the very crowded junior welterweight market place, regardless of where he launched from.

    Alvarado entered his October 2012 showdown with Brandon Rios undefeated. He suffered a Round 6 TKO in a battle that many picked as their selection for fight of the year.

    Alvarado was not doing a very good job of defending himself when the fight was stopped, but he also appeared to be still conscious and alert. An immediate rematch was signed for March.

    On a media call I participated in, Bob Arum stated that he normally did not like to schedule immediate rematches, but that the fan enthusiasm for Alvarado-Rios II made it a special case.

    When I interviewed Alvarado before the fight, he told me that he planned to “make it a very frustrating fight for Brandon.” He pledged to box smart and avoid a reckless, take-no-prisoners war with Rios the second time around.

    Come fight night, that's pretty much what he did. The fight was once more an action-packed war, but this time, Alvarado used movement and a nice jab to control distance and capture a 12-round unanimous decision.

    It was Rios who still ended up getting the lucrative Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view, so perhaps, Alvarado's stock isn't quite as high as it should be now. But Alvarado and Rios are going to fight a third time at some point, you can bank on it. So whatever happens to push Rios' stock up, could have long-term benefits for Alvarado.  

Marcos Maidana

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    Marcos Maidana is a well-established company that has always delivered a reliable product: extremely exciting, brawl-heavy prize fights, usually won by stoppage. But like many established companies, he struggled briefly when he shifted his focus by stepping up to welterweight.

    In his first trip to 147, he was thoroughly outclassed by Devon Alexander.

    So Maidana did what all successful companies do when they falter. He strengthened his organization and brought in new talent, signing on with super-trainer Robert Garcia.

    As a result, Maidana has been able to establish himself as a factor within one of boxing's glamor divisions. He remains an aggressive brawler, but under Garcia's tutelage, he has developed a very solid jab.

    A Marcos Maidana with a solid jab is a dangerous fighter indeed. Against Jesus Soto Karass in September 2012 and against Josesito Lopez on June 8 of this year, Maidana used his jab to move into range against longer fighters to score with his power shots.

    The results were two more stoppages for Maidana, the 29th and 31st of his career.   

Keith Thurman

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    Keith Thurman is 20-0 with 18 KOs. He's the kind of stock tip you'd get on cable television: everybody in the know is already aware of him.

    So far, Thurman has campaigned between welterweight and junior middleweight. That's a highly competitive marketplace, but for a stock with the potential of Thurman, it offers near unlimited room for growth.

    Thurman proved he was a legitimate contender when he stopped Carlos Quintana in November 2012. Last March, he beat former world-title challenger Zan Javeck by a one-sided unanimous decision.

    In July, Thurman will meet undefeated Diego Chavez for the WBA interim welterweight belt. A Keith Thurman with a 147-pound title belt around his waist will get the kind of fights he needs to push his stock value through the roof.  

Robert Guerrero

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    In the first part of the year, Robert Guerrero was a stock on the rise. He was fresh off an exciting unanimous decision beatdown of Andre Berto and was enjoying the inevitable bump that comes from being the opponent on a Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view.

    Against Mayweather, he was thoroughly outclassed, barely winning a round. At least a few people were regarding him last May as a the guy who would potentially knock off the pound-for-pound king. Now he's just one more notch on Floyd's six gun.

    So his stock has dropped as a result.

    Still, if Guerrero was a company, he'd be fundamentally strong. Holding world titles at 126, 135 and 147 puts him in rare company, even in this age of proliferating title belts.

    I would not be surprised to see Guerrero brought in to face Adrien Broner, provided Broner gets past Paulie Malignaggi this June. It's far too early to sell off your Robert Guerrero stock just yet.  

Saul Alvarez

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    Just as Robert Guerrero's stock took a bump up over the first part of 2012, due to being slated for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather, Saul Alvarez is enjoying the same bounce now, in anticipation of his September 14 clash with the pound-for-pound champ.

    Alvarez was among the hottest fighters in the sport before he signed to fight Mayweather. He's now perched near the top of the boxing food chain, positioned to take part in a record-breaking pay-per-view.

    But Alvarez is a classic case of a stock that some regard as overhyped. To be sure, he enjoys a popularity that far surpasses his actual accomplishments, and perhaps what he's even capable of accomplishing.

    But he's 22 and has already fought more than 40 professional fights. His win over Austin Trout earlier this year established him as a legitimate, undefeated world champion. He has boxing skills and has looked better in each of his recent fights.

    Alvarez is unlikely to beat Floyd Mayweather. When he moves up to full middleweight eventually, I do not predict he will be anything like the force he has been at 154.

    Still, he has the determination and ability to stick around and remain a major factor in the sport. Hold on to your Canelo stock. It might not be the next General Electric, but it will continue to rise.  

Mikey Garcia

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    Hardcore fans have been buying into Mikey Garcia since 2011, at least, but his one-sided beatdown of Orlando Salido last January gave him the WBO featherweight title and made him the stock that everybody was suddenly scrambling to add to their portfolios.

    Garcia is an intelligent and methodical assassin. He is a perfect 31-0 with 26 wins coming by way of stoppage. He studies an opponent and takes him apart.

    “Sometimes I need to pressure them. Sometimes it means staying on the outside and boxing,” he told me, when I interviewed him by phone last week.

    Garcia is set to face former featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez later in June. Garcia spoke respectfully about his opponent, saying that he considered a fighter like Lopez dangerous: “He's been on top and he knows what it's like to lose that. He knows what he gets back if he wins.”

    It's good to hear a young champion like Garcia sounding cautious. But in my own opinion, Lopez will be made for Garcia. He should be able to stay away from Lopez's heavy hands and cut him down with his own considerable power.

    From there, expect Mikey Garcia's stock to continue to rise.    

Andre Ward

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    Andre Ward is a classic Fortune 500 company. He's got solid organizational structure and superior product, along with near-total market domination. He has beaten every top contender at super middleweight and would be a heavy favorite against any fighter if he jumped up to 175.

    But the market needs to see a fighter stay active in order to keep believing in him. Ward has not been in the ring since his Round 10 TKO of Chad Dawson last September and has yet to announce his next opponent.

    At this point, the public is anxious to see Ward's newest product line. Ward's return to the ring will be anticipated by hardcore fans the same way as a new Apple launch.

Floyd Mayweather

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    As the top-earning athlete in professional sports, Floyd Mayweather truly is a major corporation, all to himself. He employs a team of professionals to keep his business running smoothly.

    And projections for Mayweather's stock remain strong.

    But like any wildly successful brand, Mayweather has a legion of detractors. They will tell you his stock value is inflated, a phony mirage built on hype alone.

    The funny thing about these detractors, though, is that when you ask them who Mayweather should fight to prove his true worth, they generally suggest something like a catchweight bout with Andre Ward at 164 pounds.

    I'll be the first to admit that Mayweather's resume would look a lot more impressive if he had fought Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito five years ago, instead of retiring to embarrass himself in the WWE, before returning against a then-undersized Juan Manuel Marquez.

    But why not fighting Williams and Margarito then means he should fight guys who outweigh him by 20-25 pounds to prove himself now is a true mystery to me.

    Is Mayweather the greatest of all time, as he claims? Not in my opinion. At 147, he doesn't beat either Sugar Ray or Tommy Hearns, and that's for starters. 

    But if Mayweather was a stock, he'd be whatever stock smart, rich people buy, when they want to be sure their money is being wisely invested.    

Lucas Matthysse

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    Lucas Matthysse is the hottest rising stock on the entire index right now. His Round 3 TKO of IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson in May has many observers convinced that he stands alone at the top of the very talented 140-pound mountain.

    Matthysse entered that fight already on fire. Last September, he had TKOd fellow unbeaten contender Ajose Olusegun in 10. This past January, he blasted Mike Dallas Jr. in the very first round.

    Lamont Peterson was supposed to be a significant step up for Matthysse, a fellow world-class fighter who would push him to his limit. Instead, Matthysse jumped on him early and blasted him out.

    Matthysse has a record of 34-2 with 32 KOs. Both of his losses came by way of a highly contested split decision, to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, respectively. A lot of fans view Matthysse as undefeated.

    Both Judah and Alexander were dropped to the canvas by Matthysse. He's knocked down everybody he has ever fought.

    Matthysse just might be the hottest fighter in the sport. I will favor him to beat Danny Garcia, if their highly anticipated showdown ends up taking place. I'd love to see him matched with fellow Argentinian gunslinger Marcos Maidana or against any other top welterweight, when he decides to move up.

    Floyd Mayweather will have four fights left on his current contract after his fight with Canelo Alvarez. Expect heavy fan outcry for Matthysse to be selected for one of those bouts.