Boxing’s MVP Fighters

By Paul Magno on September 30, 2017
Boxing’s MVP Fighters
Mayweather continues to be, by far, boxing’s most valuable presence. (Peter Hapak/ESPN)

Who draws the most interest, generates the most sales, and creates the most crossover attention? Who powers the engine of boxing with their ring choices?

Who are the most important fighters in the sport today? Who draws the most interest, generates the most sales, and creates the most crossover attention? Who powers the engine of boxing with their ring choices?

Here are boxing’s 10 most valuable fighters—not necessarily the BEST fighters—and the reasoning behind their status as game-sustaining figures.

10. David Haye

Never underestimate the appeal of a good-looking, well-spoken heavyweight with a knack for generating headlines. Haye, even inactive and with limited recent success, can still sell out any arena in the booming boxing market of Great Britain and can draw tons of attention pretty much everywhere else in the world, too. A rematch with Tony Bellew, who stopped an injury-hampered Haye in eleven rounds last March, is apparently on tap for later this year. A win could earn him one-half of an epic blockbuster with fellow Brit, Anthony Joshua.

9. Deontay Wilder

Oddly enough, a heavy-handed American heavyweight champ has had some trouble capturing the hearts and minds of fight fans in the States. Chalk that up to a poor overall level of opposition and generally scornful treatment from the media. But, make no mistake about it, Wilder is still a motor that can be driving great interest in the sport, if only he would be facing the “right” opposition. An upcoming bout with Luis Ortiz appears to be on the verge of being scrapped due to a dirty pre-fight blood test from Ortiz. Too bad, because a win over Ortiz would’ve been a huge step in the right direction from a public relations perspective en route to a unification bout with fellow titlist and emerging superstar, Anthony Joshua. Wilder is still supremely salvageable, though, and as his name gets tied more and more to Joshua’s, the business will move and shake under his weight.

8. Miguel Cotto

The Puerto Rican former four-division world champ still commands a large and loyal Boricua fan base despite recent losses and dubious matchmaking “gimmes.” When Cotto shows up to fight, the boxing world shows up to watch. The 36-year-old may have aged beyond his years, thanks to an overall high level of opposition, but few fighters carry his drawing power and level of name recognition.

7. Vasyl Lomachenko

A lot of time and energy has been invested into making Lomachenko THE man of the under 135 lb. set. Admittedly, it’s not that difficult to pass the Ukraine native off as a special fighter worthy of mainstream attention. Supremely talented and with an entertaining fighting style, Lomachenko very well could be the most compelling lighter-weight boxer at the moment. His upcoming bout with Guillermo Rigondeaux will only serve to solidify his status as a darling of hardcore fans and, arguably, the biggest draw among the sport’s small men.

6. Errol Spence Jr.

He’s not driving the sport on name recognition alone—yet—but Spence is already THE major presence in the deep and talented welterweight division after his high-profile victory over Kell Brook this past May. All roads to the top of 147 go through the likeable and unassuming 27-year-old and that means he will get plenty of chances to test his elite-level ability against the likes of Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and possibly even Terence Crawford.

5. Gennady Golovkin

Nobody fires up the hardcore boxing fan base like “Triple G.” A certain subset of boxing fandom and the sport’s media have been deeply, deeply in love with the Kazakh KO machine since HBO rolled out the red carpet for him five years ago. Forget the debate over whether he’s gotten too much credit for too little actual accomplishment and definitely forget about the All-Time Great nonsense that has media ranking him behind only Hagler, Robinson, and Monzon at 160—Golovkin can pack arenas with loyal fans and can generate almost cult-like loyalty to his every action. That’s the kind of power boxing promoters absolutely lust after.

4. Manny Pacquiao

The Filipino Icon has been through the wringer and is on his last legs as a viable main stage fighter, but few names generate as much attention as Pacquiao’s still does. In the prime of his popularity, the multi-division world champ commanded a virtual army of fiercely loyal fanatics who powered an entire cottage industry within the boxing media dedicated to delivering hand-crafted news and minutiae regarding the legendary figure. But even now, despite Pacquiao’s disappearance from pound-for-pound top dog consideration and in the face of clearly diminishing ring work, his name still brings a wave of attention and publicity to whatever it’s attached to.

3. Saul Alvarez

Like it or not, “Canelo” is, without question, top dog in the Americas when it comes to drawing power. The 20-something Mexican star is a superstar at home and also the top active money earner in the U.S. as well. And while it may confound some hardcore fans—in much the same way that the good-looking, clean-cut Oscar De la Hoya and his charmed life confounded these same fans twenty years ago—numbers don’t lie. In a world without a Mayweather or a Pacquiao, Canelo is king.

2. Anthony Joshua

The world has been wanting to believe in Anthony Joshua for so long that when he finally did score a high-end win over an elite-level opponent, one could almost hear the collective shout from fans welcoming the sport’s next superstar to the throne. Joshua’s eleventh round TKO of Wladimir Klitschko opened the door for full Joshua adulation and, to his credit, the 27-year-old Brit has responded well by aiming to up the level of his opposition while assuming a certain presence of leadership in the sport. “AJ” has all the ability and charisma to live up to his full potential as the biggest heavyweight star since Tyson.

1. Floyd Mayweather

Nobody can deny that “Money” Mayweather is the top star and top money-earner in all of boxing. Although he now claims to be officially retired, his placement atop this list is in deference to his ability to reach out at any time and put together yet another blockbuster. His recent novelty bout with the UFC’s Conor McGregor generated over 4 million PPV buys and brought in a live gate of more than $52 million, making it the second richest prizefight of all time—right behind Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2015. Whether you love him or simply love to hate him, Mayweather continues to be, by far, boxing’s most valuable presence.

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  1. fan 04:52pm, 09/30/2017

    Boxers needs nickname to be fan basing.
    1. DiamondFace
    2. SteelAbs
    3. The CatMan
    4. StoneHands
    5. MouthPiece Blower
    6. The Knocker


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