Rankings: Underrated Ward on the way up

Andre Ward had been regarded for several years by many boxing insiders as the sport's most underrated fighter.

Boxing - Ward-Dawson deserves more recognition

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Andre Ward

He's underrated no more, however. Ward's 10th-round stoppage of Chad Dawson, which followed a comprehensive performance, vaulted him past Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez in the Yahoo! Sports rankings and into second place, behind only Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Martinez also had a brilliant performance in a significant win, scoring a near-whitewash of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. before more than 19,000 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Perhaps it was because he was nearly stopped in the final round, but Martinez dropped from No. 3 in the ratings to No. 4 in polling done after the bout.

It's hard to argue, though, with Ward's ascension. Ward beat a better quality opponent more convincingly than Martinez. He also showed finishing power that he hadn't previously displayed.

And Ward's move up the rankings might not be done. Mayweather is also unbeaten, but he's near the end of his career, while Ward is just reaching the peak of his powers. Some believe Ward has already passed Mayweather, but it now seems likely that at the very least, Ward will be the successor to that throne as the world's top boxer.

Had Martinez done to Chavez in the 12th round what he did in the first 11, he might have been able to hold off Ward. But given that Chavez came within seconds of stopping Martinez, voters opted to go with Ward.

Ward finished higher than Martinez on 25 of the 35 ballots cast.

Before unveiling the updated Top 10, please note that September is the final month of eligibility for Yuriorkis Gamboa. Gamboa, who came in 12th, has not fought since September 10, 2011. Fighters who have not competed in a year are ineligible. Thus, Gamboa will not be eligible in the October poll and until he once again fights.

With that, here is the latest Yahoo! Sports boxing top 10 rankings:

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

2. Andre Ward

3. Manny Pacquiao

4. Sergio Martinez

5. Juan Manuel Marquez

6. Nonito Donaire Jr.

7. Wladimir Klitschko

8. Timothy Bradley

9. Vitali Klitschko

10. Carl Froch

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