Boxers Whose Stock Has Skyrocketed in 2014

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2014

Boxers Whose Stock Has Skyrocketed in 2014

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    Even though he lost earlier this month to Floyd Mayweather, Marcos Maidana's performance pushed his already surging stock even higher.

    By dominating the second half of his fight with Timothy Bradley to win a clear decision in the rematch, Manny Pacquiao climbed nearly all the way back to where he was when 2012 began.

    Fortunes can rise and fall quickly in boxing. A single performance can elevate a fighter's reputation, earning power and popularity to a different level.

    The following fighters have all seen their stock shoot up in 2014.

10. Vyacheslav Glazkov

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    In March Vyacheslav Glazkov propelled himself up the heavyweight rankings by knocking off longtime contender Tomasz Adamek via unanimous decision. The Ring currently ranks him No. 5.

    Glazkov had an extensive amateur career, winning a bronze medal for the Ukraine in the 2008 Olympics. He's not a large heavyweight, so it's tough for me to see him standing up well against his fellow countryman, Wladimir Klitschko. 

    But his technical skill and physical conditioning could make him a tough matchup for new WBC champion Bermane Stiverne. With the victory over Adamek on his resume, he's now positioned to be a factor in the sport's glamour division. 

9. Jermell Charlo

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    Light middleweights Jermell Charlo and his twin brother Jermall are two of the top prospects in boxing. Involved in the sport since they were boys, the two excelled as amateurs and are both undefeated so far as professionals. 

    If Jermall's fight with IBF champion Carlos Molina hadn't fallen through earlier this year, he might have been on this list as well. But Jermell's performance against tough journeyman Gabriel Rosado in January earned him his spot here. 

    Charlo looked smooth and dangerous against Rosado, winning by a near shutout against a fighter who has rarely been an easy out. Charlo looked far more impressive against Rosado than super middleweight contender J'Leon Love or middleweight champion Peter Quillin did. 

8. Jessie Vargas

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    Now 25 years old, undefeated Jessie Vargas has been viewed as one of the sport's hottest potential prospects since before he was old enough to drink legally. But by defeating fellow undefeated fighter Khabib Allakhverdiev on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley undercard, he stepped up into the light welterweight elite. 

    Technically, the win made Vargas the WBA "regular" light welterweight champion. But as far as I'm concerned, Danny Garcia is the WBA light welterweight champion. The WBA doesn't get to have two world champions in a division, just because they decided to make one of them a "super" champion. 

    Still, Vargas looked great against Allakhverdiev, a world-class opponent. Legitimate world champion or not, Vargas is clearly among the top stars in the 140-pound division. 

7. Naoya Inoue

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    A new phenom is rising in Japan in the junior flyweight division. In April, in just his sixth professional fight, 21-year-old Naoya Inoue captured the WBC belt when he beat Adrian Hernandez by Round 6 TKO. 

    If this kind of development had happened at a higher weight class, it would have been a major story in the sport. Hernandez was an experienced world champion. His only loss in the past five years had come against veteran Kompayak Porpramook, which he avenged by TKO. 

    Inoue's explosiveness and agility were troubling Hernandez from Round 1 on. It's tough for a fighter at 108 pounds to get widespread notice in the West, but talent like Inoue's should gain attention. 

6. Keith Thurman

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    When you're one of the top rising welterweights in the sport, you're expected to beat a journeyman like Julio Diaz. Still, the manner in which Keith Thurman beat Diaz this year propelled his stock even higher than it was coming into this year. 

    Diaz is now 0-3-1 in his past four fights, but he's normally a handful for even elite opponents. He drew with IBF champion Shawn Porter and lost the rematch by unanimous decision. In between those two fights with Porter, he dropped a close unanimous decision to Amir Khan, knocking the British star down. 

    But Thurman steamrolled him, forcing Diaz to quit after rattling him with a body shot. Thurman has begun to repeat "I've got an O and I'm not afraid to let it go" in his interviews.

    A fighter with his talent and willingness to take risks is guaranteed to bring exciting fights to fans. 

5. Terence Crawford

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    By the end of 2013 Terence Crawford was already starting to be viewed as the top potential fighter in the lightweight division. In March he solidified his claim by traveling to Scotland and taking the WBO belt from Ricky Burns. 

    Next up for Crawford is a superfight in June against undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa. This is the biggest fight at 135 pounds in years. 

    Crawford has the physical tools and technical schooling to develop into a future superstar. A win over Gamboa will have him well on his way. 

4. Bermane Stiverne

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    It may be time to officially take the heavyweight division off life support in the United States. On May 10 Bermane Stiverne knocked out Chris Arreola to capture the vacant WBC belt. The fight was broadcast live on ESPN.

    Next up for Stiverne should be undefeated knockout artist Deontay Wilder, whom the WBC has already named as his mandatory.

    Stiverne vs. Wilder is hardly Frazier vs. Ali, but after years without meaningful action in the United States among the heavyweights, it's a step in the right direction. 

3. Shawn Porter

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    Sometimes in boxing, the most important thing is to be ready when opportunity presents himself. Shawn Porter is the sport's best current example of that. 

    Last December he stepped in as a late opponent to face IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander. Porter made the most of the chance and roughed Alexander up to capture the belt by unanimous decision. 

    So Porter entered 2014 as a fighter whose stock was on the rise. But that stock skyrocketed last April when he pummeled Paulie Malignaggi by Round 4 TKO. 

    That's the same Malignaggi whom the wildly hyped Adrien Broner struggled to beat by contested split decision. While Broner was busy posting videos of himself flushing money down the toilet and cavorting with strippers, Porter was quietly positioning himself to be one of the next superstars in the sport. 

2. Manny Pacquiao

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    If Manny Pacquiao was a stock, he'd be a well-established blue-chipper that weathered some recent troubles to rebound strong in 2014. Ever since he dropped a disputed split decision to Timothy Bradley in June 2012, there's been a perception that he was a fighter in decline. 

    It's not that many observers felt he deserved to lose to Bradley. It's one of the most controversial decisions of recent years.

    But Pacquiao was hardly his usual explosive self in that fight, and he followed the loss by getting knocked out by longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December. 

    Pacquiao fought just once in 2013, winning a one-sided decision over Brandon Rios. But Rios was a made-to-order fighter for Pacquiao, so the win didn't exactly rehabilitate his image.

    His work against Bradley in April was a different matter. Pacquiao survived an early attempted mauling from a stronger fighter to use his speed and skill to outwork Bradley and exhaust him down the stretch.

    For now, Pac-Man is back. And that is good for boxing. 

1. Marcos Maidana

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    In his post-fight interview with Showtime's Jim Gray, Marcos Maidana's disappointment over his defeat to Floyd Mayweather was obvious. The Argentine thought he had won the fight, and it was tough for him to accept that the judges disagreed.

    But in boxing, sometimes you can lose but still win. Maidana had entered that fight as a popular brawler, though few gave him much chance against the pound-for-pound king.

    Now he's known as the fighter who pushed Mayweather to his limit. There's a sizable minority of fans who believe he should have won.

    The fight was so close and exciting that Mayweather will face a lot of pressure to give Maidana a rematch. Short of a long-awaited fight with Pacquiao, the fans won't accept anything else.