Deciding how to establish a ranking for most overrated boxers is a tricky business. Hype is an integral part of the fight game, and a really good promoter focuses on getting his fighters as highly thought of as possible while exposing them to as little risk of loss as possible.
So any fighter on a win streak is likely to get overrated to some degree. As soon as a fighter starts to look like he can make some money and generate some fan interest, he will find plenty of people anxious to talk him up.
So a fighter can be very overrated and still be a pretty good fighter just the same. Every fighter on this list is a legitimate world-class professional. A few of them have serious talent and potential for greatness.
But right now, I think all of them are being at least little bit overrated by promotional organizations and/or various independent rankings.
By including Kell Brook here, I'm not implying the British welterweight doesn't have a lot of potential and promise. But I see him regularly rated as a top five at welterweight, including three by The Ring, behind only champion Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Brook just hasn't won the fights to justify that ranking in the ultra-competitive welterweight division. Who has he beat to justify ranking him ahead of Timothy Bradley or Robert Guerrero? What in his resume elevates him above Marcos Maidana or Ruslan Provodnikov?
Why should Brook be rated ahead of fellow countryman Amir Khan? And I could go on and on. Why should Brook be rated significantly above Luis Abregu?
Brook is a case of a nice fighter getting overrated because he's got a fresh face and a growing following.
Robert Stieglitz is the WBO super middleweight champion, a title he won in a rematch last March with Arthur Abraham, when he injured Abraham's eye and won by Round 4 TKO. Stieglitz is a tough, durable fighter, but the win over a shopworn Abraham is the only truly notable victory on his resume.
The WBO has been in no hurry to challenge him. For his first defense last summer, they had him face Yuzo Kiyota of Japan, probably the least qualified world-title challenger I have ever encountered in all my years of watching boxing. Stieglitz beat him by Round 10 TKO.
He'll defend again against Isaac Ekpo, another complete nonentity, on October 19.
Stieglitz is a case similar to Brook. He's elevated within the super middleweight division simply by virtue of being one of the few names left who hasn't lost to Andre Ward.
Tomasz Adamek is a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight world champion, and he's recorded some good wins at heavyweight. In 2010, he won a majority decision over an out-of-shape Chris Arreola.
In 2011, he made a valiant challenge against Vitali Klitschko, but the larger man beat him up badly. Somehow, Adamek continues to be viewed as a top-five heavyweight two years later.
In 2012, Adamek won a unanimous decision I don't think he deserved against Eddie Chambers when "Fast Eddie" was fighting with one hand. Later in the year, he received a split-decision victory against Steve Cunningham that he deserved even less.
I would rate Adamek on the back-end of the top 10 at heavyweight at this point, but The Ring has him at four.
Sergio Martinez is still ranked in the pound-for-pound top five by The Ring, despite the fact that in his last fight, he struggled and was lucky to escape with a decision over Martin Murray. Martinez's continued high spot in the rankings is a matter of legacy, not reality.
Martinez has been one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of the past 10 years, and as recently as 2012, there was every reason to still regard him as such. But after multiple surgeries in the past year and his lackluster performance against Murray, anybody who isn't revising their opinion of Martinez is overrating him.
If Martinez was still really the best fighter in the world at middleweight, would Miguel Cotto, a smallish junior middleweight, be his most likely next opponent?
Kiko Martinez captured the IBF super bantamweight title last August with a Round 6 TKO over Jhonatan Romero. It was a great performance by Martinez. He knocked off an undefeated young prospect.
But it's a mystery to me how Romero vs. Martinez was even a title fight in a division as loaded as 122 pounds. Last February, Martinez lost by Round 9 TKO to Carl Frampton. He rebounded from the TKO loss by stopping journeyman Damien Marchiano in two rounds.
So a loss to an undefeated prospect and a win over a journeyman is now, somehow, the path to a world-title shot? In today's world, apparently so.
Martinez is a decent fighter, but the fact that he is now a world-title holder and spoken about as a legitimate opponent for Guillermo Rigondeaux or Nonito Donaire makes him somewhat overrated.
Tyson Fury is a physical giant with a belligerent attitude. He puts in his time in the gym and has some skill.
That means he's going to be a handful for any man alive and a nightmare for most. But I don't see how he's come to sit so highly in so many rankings at heavyweight.
He got outboxed for half the fight and knocked on his back by Steve Cunningham, a cruiserweight with limited power. He was able to hang on in that fight and win solely because of his massive size.
Against a skilled super heavyweight like the Klitschko brothers, he'd be lucky to last eight rounds. I doubt Fury will finish the fight conscious against the explosive David Haye, who I also consider somewhat overrated.
Brandon Rios is a very exciting fighter who almost always gives fans their money's worth. In a lot of ways, this is the biggest compliment you can give a professional fighter.
A guy like Rios deserves to make a comfortable living for what he does in the ring. But as an all-around fighter, he has, so far, always shown limitations that prevent him from being a true pound-for-pound star.
In April 2012, Rios was very lucky to escape with a split-decision win over Richar Abril. I consider it a worse decision than Bradley over Pacquiao.
In his loss to Mike Alvarado last March, Rios showed, once more, that he's vulnerable to a little bit of boxing and movement. But, somehow, that defeat earned him a pay-per-view shot against Manny Pacquiao.
Pay-per-view opponents are supposed to be pound-for-pound top-10 guys themselves, or at least close to it. Rios isn't even on the bubble. By promoting him in that kind of slot, Top Rank is very much overrating him.
Ricky Burns is the WBO lightweight champion and is rated among the best in the world at 135. But his recent performances would indicate that he's being overrated in such a lofty position.
In May, Burns was very lucky when undefeated and untested Jose Gonzalez quit against him. Before tapping out with an injured wrist following Round 9, the neophyte had built a substantial lead over Burns on all three cards.
In September, Burns faced veteran Raymundo Beltran. He escaped with a draw and his title, but it was the worst decision so far this year.
Burns is talented and a scrapper. But for him to still be widely viewed as a top five at lightweight means he is being overrated by a lot of people.
Piling on Adrien Broner has become popular among boxing fans of late, to the point where his legitimate skills and accomplishments are getting overlooked. But my assignment was to write about the most overrated fighters in the sport, and there is no way to leave Broner off that list.
The Ring currently has Broner rated as the No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter. They elevated him into the top 10 after his Round 9 TKO of Antonio DeMarco last November.
It was an exciting performance, but hardly enough to justify that kind of bump. It wasn't even unprecedented. Edwin Valero beat DeMarco in similar fashion in 2010.
I thought Broner deserved to win when he captured the WBA welterweight title against Paulie Malignaggi last June. But I thought the fight proved he wasn't a pound-for-pound top-10 fighter yet, too.
Broner's talent is undeniable, so maybe he'll continue to put things together quickly. If he turns in a dominant performance against Marcos Maidana in December, his case becomes more compelling. But for right now, he is very overrated.
Saul Alvarez is a talented young fighter with an exciting style. He should provide boxing fans with many more rounds of action in the years ahead.
But right now, The Ring has Alvarez rated No. 9 pound-for-pound, even after his one-sided, shutout defeat against Floyd Mayweather last month. That is a case of seriously overrating him.
Alvarez was being overrated going into that fight. He'd, somehow, cracked the pound-for-pound top 10 based on beating an aged Shane Mosley and Austin Trout, a talented, but still largely untested, fellow 20-something.
Against Mayweather, he was outclassed as thoroughly as any other recent opponent. In my opinion, he showed that he is still not a pound-for-pound top 10.