Stock Up, Stock Down for Top Stars in Boxing

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down for Top Stars in Boxing

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    Investing into the career of one of boxing’s biggest superstars is a lot like playing the stock market: you have to be smart. Paying attention to where the fighter is today versus where he was in the past is the single most critical element of forecasting where he might be going in the future.  

    With that in mind, here is a look at some of boxing’s biggest superstars today. Has his stock risen? Is it on the way down?

    To help us find out, we’ll look at how highly valued a fighter is today versus where he was just one year ago. Other criteria include measuring a fighter’s recent mark success, overall historical impact and his success within his current weight division.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0, 26 KOs)

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    Floyd Mayweather is the premier force in the fight game today. Not only is the 147-pounder the best boxer in the world, but he’s also its largest earner. In fact, Mayweather is the highest-earning athlete in the world of sports today.

    Mayweather appears to be a no-lose investment. But all good things must pass, and so it will be with Mayweather’s time atop the world of boxing. But when?

    Mayweather faces a stern challenge against undefeated junior middleweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The hard-punching Mexican is larger than any other fighter Mayweather has ever faced, and his 36-year-old body might be slowing more than his win last May over Robert Guerrero let on.

    Still, Mayweather will be a heavy favorite on fight night, and his stay atop of the sport doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

    Verdict: Up

Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs)

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    Ward dominated linear light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson last year, but he’s been on the shelf since. In January, Ward had to have surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder.

    Still, Ward is only 29 years old, so it’s likely his peak years as a fighter are still ahead of him. Should he come back to full force after surgery (as expected), he should at least maintain his status as the likely heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather’s pound-for-pound throne.

    There are some issues, though. Ward has become less and less likable via social media as of late. The tough-as-nails boxer inside the ring seems to wear his heart on his sleeve outside of it, and he gets caught up in silly Internet arguments with some of his Twitter followers.

    No matter. Ward is one of the best fighters in the world when the bell rings, and nothing should stop him from being HBO’s favorite son going forward, so long as he can continue to find worthy opponents in and around the super middleweight division.

    That shouldn't be too hard, but there’s absolutely no doubt the inactivity has slowed his meteoric rise in the sport down to a crawl.

    Verdict: Down

Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs)

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    Juan Manuel Marquez shocked the world last December with newfound power in his KO win over nemesis Manny Pacquiao. Always the great technician with superb combination punching skills, he now suddenly possesses the kind of pop in his fists that leaves other men quaking in their boots.

    Next up for Marquez is undefeated welterweight Timothy Bradley. It’s an interesting matchup in styles. Marquez is a pure technician, while Bradley typically uses unorthodox aggression and old-fashioned gumption to nab his prey.

    Typically, fight fans not already onboard with a 39-year-old legend wouldn’t want to jump aboard the ship now, but this case may be different. Marquez looked better than ever last December, and a win over Bradley would position him for even more lucrative megafights against some of the biggest names in the sport.

    Expect Marquez to outpoint Bradley and stay atop the boxing world for yet a little while longer, where his career is as high has it's ever been.

    Verdict: Up

Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs)

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    Manny Pacquiao’s stock has taken quite the tumble as of late. Where he was once regarded as the only real threat to Floyd Mayweather’s status as the best boxer in the sport, his December knockout loss to Marquez dropped him back down to mere mortal status.

    It’s probably a good thing. Without a Mayweather fight, Pacquiao had nowhere to go but down really, and a rise back to prominence would galvanize his career in a new and interesting way.

    Pacquiao will take on tough slugger Brandon Rios in November. Expect him to dominate Rios, who will be game but ultimately outclassed by the faster and stronger Pacquiao.

    It will be just what the doctor ordered. Pacquiao’s popularity will return, and rematches against either Marquez or Timothy Bradley will keep the Filipino right where he wants to be

    Still, Pacquiao isn’t nearly where he was just a year ago today.

    Verdict: Down

Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs)

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    Nonito Donaire went from accepting his 2012 BWAA Fighter of the Year award to looking woefully unprepared days later for Guillermo Rigondeaux, who easily bested Donaire with sharp counterpunching and slick defense.

    Donaire didn’t appear on top of his game that night. He was unusually tentative, and he didn’t seem able to recognize how to attack the Cuban. Whether he was doomed from the get-go remains unclear. More clear, though, is that Donaire, age 30, remains supremely gifted as a fighter.

    The Filipino Flash will try to reestablish his game against Vic Darchinyan this November in a rematch of the 2007 bout that saw Donaire capture the hearts and minds of boxing fans for perhaps the very first time.

    Donaire knocked Darchinyan out in Round 5 of that one, and another highlight-reel blast could only help matters at this point.

    That being said, the smartest move right now is to wait and see how Donaire responds from being dissected by Rigondeaux. There’s no doubt he’s taken a big hit since then. Can he rise back to the top?

    Verdict: Down

Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs)

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    Junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux destroyed perennial pound-for-pound superstar Donaire in only his 12th professional fight earlier this year. That should tell you just how special Rigo is as a top-level talent.

    Before the fight, Rigo’s manager, Gary Hyde, claimed a “Rigolution” was coming to boxing, according to Michael Woods of The Sweet Science. He was right. Sort of.

    Sure, 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.  

    However, Rigo is already 32 years old, and he’s proved to be a bit chinny at times in his career (e.g., he was knocked to the floor by Donaire during their tussle).

    Moreover, the powers that be over at HBO don’t seem all that interested in broadcasting any of his fights. As great as his potential remains, you might want to remain cautious with your enthusiasm about him for now. It’d be shame to get all worked up for a fighter you never get to see fight.

    That being said, Rigondeaux’s stock is as high as it’s ever been right now.  

    Verdict: Up