As Jhonny Gonzalez's dramatic Round 1 stoppage of pound-for-pound star Abner Mares proved last weekend, fortunes in boxing can rise and fall in an instant.
Mares had ground away at this brutal sport for years, cleaning out weight classes and collecting world titles. He'd garnered so much respect in the sport that when his promoter, Richard Schaefer, declared that Mares should be viewed as the pound-for-pound No. 2 behind Floyd Mayweather, nobody laughed at him, even if they politely disagreed.
Mares is a serious talent, and nobody who knows much about boxing will write him off based on one shocking loss. But it's a major setback to his standing in the sport.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, finally gets the kind of respect he's been waiting for. He has been winning world titles since the Bush administration and has defeated some very good fighters.
But nothing he's done in his long years in the sport will raise his reputation more quickly than his dramatic destruction of one of Golden Boy's primary golden boys.
Here are the boxers like Gonzales who have improved their reputation this year.
Last November, Juan Estrada lost a unanimous decision to WBA light flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez by scores of 116-112 twice and 118-110 once. It was a lot better than the vast majority of Gonzalez's opponents had managed, but it wasn't the kind of performance that made fans think, "We better keep an eye on that guy."
But Estrada has spent 2013 moving up to flyweight and establishing himself as the top fighter in the world at the division. In April, he went to China and captured the WBO title from experienced veteran Brian Viloria by split decision. I think the two judges who scored the fight 116-111 and 117-111 were a lot closer to accurate than the dissenter who went 115-113 for Viloria.
In July, Estrada beat previously unbeaten Milan Melindo to add the WBA belt to his collection. Aside from his loss to Gonzalez, Estrada's only other defeat came against IBF super flyweight champion Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr., in an eight-rounder early in both their careers.
Guillermo Rigondeaux was highly regarded coming into 2013. He was viewed as perhaps the greatest amateur boxer of all time and had already established himself as the WBA super bantamweight champion after only seven fights.
In April, he handed a boxing lesson to a Nonito Donaire, a fighter almost universally ranked in the pound-for-pound top five. Even serious fans who recognized Rigondeaux's obvious skills questioned if he could be ready to withstand the elite pressure and athleticism that Donaire possesses over the course of 12 rounds.
It was the kind of win that propels a fighter's reputation to the next level, no matter how well respected he was coming in.
Evgeny Gradovich's 2013 could be presented to young people as the perfect example of the old axiom, "When opportunity knocks, open the darn door."
When he was offered the opportunity to take a title fight with IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib on a mere four weeks notice, he didn't hesitate. And when he faced the champion on Friday Night Fights last March, he pushed the pace all night and earned the belt with a hard-fought split decision.
Gradovich is a member of Robert Garcia's now legendary Boxing Academy. He came to California with a stellar amateur background in Russia, but his new gym has helped him transition magnificently into the pro game. His work ethic and toughness have earned him one of the sport's best current nicknames, "The Mexican Russian."
When 2013 started, Mikey Garcia was already among the sport's brightest prospects. He was 25 and undefeated and had established himself as a serious contender with finishing ability.
By the time the year was a month old, he was already a world champion. In January, he scored the year's first major victory by beating up tough veteran Orlando Salido.
In June, he stopped Juan Manuel Lopez in four rounds. Garcia appears to have outgrown the 126-pound limit, but plenty of great fights are waiting for him at 130 and 135.
When 2013 started, Lucas Matthysse had already achieved a cult-like status among boxing fans. He had lost only two fights, and both were highly controversial split decisions. A lot of fans still viewed him as undefeated.
He was 32-2 with 30 KOs. He had knocked down both Zab Judah and Devon Alexander in his split-decision defeats to them. He had dropped every opponent he'd faced in a professional ring.
In January, he demolished Mike Dallas Jr. in the first round. In May, he stopped IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson by Round 3 TKO.
That win pushed the pedal to the floor on Matthysse's career momentum. Peterson came in with only one loss, a unanimous decision to Timothy Bradley.
Matthysse will meet WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia on September 14 on the Saul Alvarez vs. Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view. For many serious fans, this is the more hotly anticipated fight.
Mike Alvarado came into 2013 with a reputation as one of the sport's toughest and most exciting warriors. His Round 7 TKO loss to Brandon Rios last October was the front-runner for Fight of the Year prior to Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao in December.
But the loss had been a frustrating one for Alvarado. For one thing, he felt that the stoppage had come too quickly.
When I interviewed him prior to his rematch with Rios in March, he compared referee Pat Russell's stoppage in his fight to Russell's willingness to let Timothy Bradley keep going against Ruslan Provodnikov, when Bradley had appeared nearly out on his feet during their March clash: "I respect his (Russell's) decision, because he did what he thinks was right. But it was frustrating to see him let Bradley fight his way back into things."
He also promised to fight a smarter fight against Rios during that conversation: "I'm going to make this a frustrating fight for Brandon."
He ended up doing exactly that. The fight was still a war, but Alvarado mixed in enough boxing to control distance and consistently outscore Rios en route to a unanimous decision.
Alvarado is signed with Top Rank, which leaves him largely shut out in a division where most of the biggest stars fight for Golden Boy. But he's fighting Provodnikov in October in a fight that should have fans on their feet for most of the night.
On September 1 of last year, Gennady Golovkin made his U.S. debut at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, on an episode of HBO's Boxing After Dark. I covered the fight live, and as a boxing writer, I felt a little bit like a teenager in the audience of the Ed Sullivan show when the Beatles came in from Liverpool.
Golovkin stopped Grzegorz Proksa in five rounds that night, brutalizing a fighter who was then ranked inside the top 10 at middleweight. In the press section, people were using words like "scary" and "monster."
So he entered this year with plenty of buzz. While waiting for a fight with another world-class middleweight, he kept busy by battering tough journeymen Gabriel Rosado by Round 8 TKO and Nobuhiro Ishida by Round 3 KO.
In June, he finally got a fight with a legitimate top-five middleweight, when Matthew Macklin stepped forward to take a crack at him. Macklin had lost a split decision to then-middleweight champion Felix Sturm that many fans felt he should have won. Later, he had fought on even terms against Sergio Martinez for over half the fight before going down to a late TKO.
Against Golovkin, he was never in the fight. As HBO's Max Kellerman noted during the broadcast, Golovkin's handling of Macklin "was not normal."
Golovkin is 27-0 with 25 KOs. He is set now to become one of the sport's major stars.
Edwin Rodriguez entered the year as an undefeated prospect at super middleweight. He was highly regarded by fans who were paying attention.
In 2011, he handed Will Rosinsky the first loss of his career and beat him more convincingly than Kelly Pavlik would manage the following year. In 2012, Rodriguez defeated once-beaten Don George.
He has spent this year fighting in the jet-set gambling mecca of Monte Carlo. In March, he beat fellow unbeaten prospect Ezequiel Maderna. But the fight that really shot his stock up happened last July, when he blitzed light heavyweight Denis Grachev in Round 1.
Grachev had gone the distance against former super middleweight champion Lucian Bute and had beaten former world champion Zsolt Erdei.
While those fights took place away from a North American television audience, they are the sort of wins that attract attention and jack up a fighter's reputation through word of mouth. Rodriguez has taken that difficult step up to legitimate contender in 2013.
When 2013 started for Sergey Kovalev he was an undefeated 19-0-1 with 17 KOs. Hardcore fans were eyeing him as a future contender at light heavyweight.
In January, he demonstrated just how legitimate he was with a Round 3 TKO of former world champion Gabriel Campillo. In June, he stopped fellow contender Cornelius White, again in Round 3.
Kovalev's promoter, Kathy Duva, was so confident in her fighter that she brought him to Wales earlier this month to face IBF world champion and hometown star Nathan Cleverly.
Cleverly was expected to be a serious step up in competition for Kovalev. Instead, he lasted a mere round longer than Kovalev's previous two opponents.
Kovalev has now established himself as one of the hottest fighters in the sport.
Deontay Wilder came into 2013 with a 26-0 record and 26 KOs, so it's not like he was off the radar of the typical boxing fan. He had even stopped fellow unbeaten giant Kelvin Price last December, so the quality of his opposition was on the rise.
This year, he has added three more quick stoppages to his perfect record. In August, he knocked out former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich in Round 1.
Liakhovich was previously TKOd in nine by Bryant Jennings, another undefeated American heavyweight who improved his reputation this year. But Wilder completely blew out the former champion.
It remains to be seen if he is a legitimate savior for the American heavyweight scene. But nobody can question that he has special power as a puncher.
And for right now, he has American boxing fans more excited about the heavyweight division than they have been in years.