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 Sept. 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:
Points: 337 (25 of 35 first-place votes)
Record: 43-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBA super welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Miguel Cotto on May 5
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Still has yet to indicate plans for resumption of career
Points: 282 (4 of 35 first-place votes)
Record: 26-0 (14 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBC super middleweight champion
Last outing: TKO 10 Chad Dawson on Sept. 8
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Showed never before seen power against Dawson
3. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 279 (6 of 35 first-place votes)
Record: 54-4-2 (38 KOs)
Last outing: L12 to No. 8 Timothy Bradley
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Dec. 8 vs. No. 5 Juan Manuel Marquez
Analysis: Vows he will knock out Marquez, which he desperately needs
Record: 50-2-2 (28 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Sept. 15
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Will be off while knee, hand injuries heal
5. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 54-6-1 (39 KOs)
Title: Interim WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 Sergey Fedchenko on April 14
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Dec. 8 vs. No. 3 Manny Pacquiao
Analysis: A convincing win over Pacquiao is his aim
Record: 29-1 (18 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO super bantamweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Oct. 13 vs. Toshiaki Nishioka
Analysis: Among the sport's most complete fighters
Record: 58-3 (51 KOs)
Title:IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO6 over Tony Thompson on July 7
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: Nov. 10 vs. Mariusz Wach
Analysis: No one on the horizon is remotely close to him
Record: 29-0 (12 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over No. 3 Manny Pacquiao on June 9
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Talking about December fight with Lamont Peterson
Record: 45-2 (41 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO 4 over Manuel Charr on Sept. 8
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Still dominant at age 41
Record: 29-2 (21 Kos)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: TKO5 Lucian Bute on May 26
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: Title defense vs. Yusef Mack on Nov. 17
Analysis: Continues to fight, and beat, highly ranked opponents
Others receiving votes: Miguel Cotto, 30; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 16; Canelo Alvarez, 10; Chris John, 8; Anselmo Moreno, 6; Chad Dawson, 4; Roman Gonzalez, 4; Guillermo Rigondeaux, 4; Adrian Broner, 3; Gennady Golovkin, 1.
Voting panel: Raul Alzaga, Primera Hoya; Al Bernstein, Showtime; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Brian Campbell, ESPN.com; Scott Christ, Bad Left Hook.com; Steve Cofield, ESPN Radio 1100; Mike Coppinger, RingTV.com; Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Rafael Hernandez Brito, Univision; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; David Mayo, MLive.com; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com; Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com; Tim Starks, The Queensbury Rules; Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer/Wall Street Journal; T.K. Stewart, RingTV.com; Bob Velin, USA Today; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City.
Related boxing video from Yahoo! Sports
Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Steve Smith rips into Cam Newton late in loss to Giants; QB's leadership questioned
• Video: Who is the NFL's best team?
• Billy Gillispie's fall began the day he left for Kentucky
• Y! News: Booze and firearms mix at controversial Georgia gun range