After watching Mikey Garcia systematically take apart Juan Carlos Burgos last Saturday -- the 34th straight opponent Garcia has taken care of in impressive fashion -- there is less and less doubt that Garcia has the talent to become one of the best fighters in the world. With superior technique and thudding power, Garcia is a trainer's dream, a fighter smart enough not to get into an unnecessary fire fight but powerful enough to close the show with one punch.
As for a promoter? That's a different story. Garcia's tactical brilliance can often be boring, as his fight against Burgos proved. Garcia's knockouts often come from a perfectly placed shot (as opposed to a flurry of crowd-pleasing combinations) and his ability to deflect or move away from an opponent's attack can lead to slow fights. In many ways, the mild-mannered Garcia is like Andre Ward, a supremely skilled fighter whose popularity has yet to match his success.
That's not an issue now, with Garcia on HBO's budget for the foreseeable future. But with Top Rank eyeing a future showdown with Manny Pacquiao -- perhaps trying to recreate the magic of a rising Pacquiao knocking off an aging Oscar De La Hoya in 2008 -- Garcia may struggle to boost his popularity to a pay-per-view level.
On to SI.com's January pound-for-pound rankings...
1. Floyd Mayweather, 45-0-0
The inimitable Mayweather claimed win number 45 -- along with a check for $41.5 million -- with another lopsided victory, this time over Saul Alvarez on Sept. 14. Facing a younger, bigger opponent, Mayweather was masterful, showcasing his trademark elusiveness and connecting on more jabs (138) than in his previous two fights. Mayweather says he will return to the ring in May, and it's looking more and more as though his next opponent will be Amir Khan.
2. Andre Ward, 26-0-0
After Ward's lopsided decision win over Edwin Rodriguez in November, it was fair to wonder which fighter was coming off of a 14-month layoff. Ward looked masterful, dissecting the undefeated challenger and re-establishing himself at the top of the super middleweight division. Ward would love a matchup with Top Rank cash cow Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. sometime this year. British contender George Groves is also an option. If neither happens, Ward's future may be at light heavyweight, where high profile fights with Adonis Stevenson, Sergey Kovalev and perhaps Bernard Hopkins wait.
3. Manny Pacquiao, 54-5-2
The relentless, pressuring Pacquiao who terrorized boxing from 2007 to 2010 is gone, and he isn't coming back. But the '13 version that wiped out Brandon Rios is pretty good, too. Pacquiao looked sharp in his first fight since getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. A rematch against Tim Bradley was signed in late January, giving Pacquiao a chance to avenge a controversial 2012 defeat.
4. Sergio Martinez, 51-2-2
Martinez looked ordinary in a decision win over Martin Murray, and members of his team have acknowledged that Martinez's time in the sport is limited. Still, one bad win doesn't diminish what he has accomplished. A knee injury, though, will keep him out of the ring until later this year, when Martinez will likely defend his title against Miguel Cotto.
5. Wladimir Klitschko, 60-3-0
For years, Alexander Povetkin was considered Wladimir Klitschko's most skilled potential opponent. After Klitschko's whitewashing of Povetkin -- a fight in which Povetkin was knocked down four times -- it's fair to wonder if there is any contender who can give Klitschko much of a fight. Behind a potent jab, Klitschko dominated, once again establishing himself as the best heavyweight in boxing. A mandatory title defense against unheralded Alex Leapai in April is next.
6. Guillermo Rigondeaux, 13-0-0
There may be no better pure boxer today than Rigondeaux, who put on a clinic in a lopsided decision win over Joseph Agbeko in December. Rigondeaux's sleep-inducing style is a real problem for his promoter, Top Rank; the win over Agbeko drew just 550,000 viewers to HBO, all but ensuring that Rigondeaux won't appear on the network anytime soon. But that doesn't change that Rigondeaux is a magnificent talent.
7. Juan Manuel Marquez, 55-7-1
If Manny Pacquiao is an ideal opponent for Marquez, Bradley is one of the worst. The counterpunching Marquez struggles against fighters with a similar style (see Mayweather, Floyd), and against Bradley in September, Marquez had to be the aggressor more often than he likely preferred. Marquez hardly embarrassed himself though, and at 40 still has plenty of possibilities in the game. Top Rank's Bob Arum told SI.com that he would like to bring Marquez back against Mike Alvarado.
8. Tim Bradley, 31-0-0
Say what you want about Bradley-Pacquiao, but Bradley now officially owns wins over Pacquiao, Marquez and Devon Alexander, and was in a Fight of the Year candidate bout against Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley made a guaranteed $4.1 million to fight Marquez and will get another big payday in April, when he will cash a $6 million check in a rematch against Pacquiao.
9. Nonito Donaire, 32-2-0
In stopping Vic Darchinyan in November, Donaire created more questions about his future than answers. Against an aging Darchinyan -- who had lost two of his previous four fights -- Donaire struggled, possibly saving himself from a decision defeat with a ninth-round knockout. Donaire says he wants a rematch with Guillermo Rigondeaux or a featherweight title fight.
10. Gennady Golovkin, 28-0-0
Golovkin padded a possible Fighter of the Year résumé with another one-sided beating, this time against the heavy-handed Curtis Stevens in November. Golovkin is the gold standard at 160 pounds, though politics and purse-hunting will likely keep Peter Quillin, Sergio Martinez or Felix Sturm from getting in the ring with him. Golovkin will return to the ring in February, in Monte Carlo, against journeyman Osumanu Adama.
11. Mikey Garcia, 34-0-0
It's hard to find holes in Garcia's game, as Juan Carlos Burgos learned last weekend. Burgos went the distance with Garcia -- the first fighter in nearly four years to accomplish that -- but couldn't do much else. After two fights at 130 pounds, Garcia says he is ready to move to 135 pounds, where a showdown with Yuriorkis Gamboa could be waiting.
12. Abner Mares, 26-1-0
Mares's rise up the pound-for-pound ladder came to a crashing halt in August, when hard-hitting Jhonny Gonzalez flattened him in the first round. Mares's success against elite opponents -- from the Showtime bantamweight tournament to quality wins over Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce De Leon -- keeps him from slipping too far, and he will get a chance to avenge his loss ... eventually. Mares-Gonzalez II, which was scheduled for February, was postponed due to a rib injury to Mares and has not yet been rescheduled.
13. Danny Garcia, 27-0-0
Too young? Ask Erik Morales. Too one-dimensional? Check with Amir Khan. Can't box? Ask Zab Judah? No chin? Go see Lucas Matthysse? Garcia has made a habit of quieting his critics, most recently with a win over Matthysse on Sept. 14. The unified junior welterweight champion, Garcia plans to defend his titles at least once more before moving to 147 pounds. A unification fight against Lamont Peterson, who rebounded from a knockout loss against Lucas Matthysse to outpoint Dierry Jean last weekend, could happen later this year, too.
14. Roman Gonzalez, 35-0-0
The flyweight star continues his romp through the sport, wiping out Oscar Blanquet in two rounds in November. There has not been a huge market for fighters in Gonzalez's weight class(es), but at 26, he could make new fans, quickly. Up next could be a rematch with unified titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, whom Gonzalez outpointed last year.
15. Erislandy Lara, 19-1-2
Like his Cuban countryman, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lara doesn't have a style that's particularly crowd-pleasing. But it is effective. In December, Lara dominated former junior middleweight titleholder Austin Trout, dropping him once in a lopsided decision. Lara is a brilliant counterpuncher, accurate, with surprising power.