Underrated Fighters in Boxing History

Underrated Fighters in Boxing History


Some boxers simply stand out from the rest. With the right amount of talent and eccentricities, a boxer can command the attention of an entire country of sports fans. When you think of boxing, some names may immediately come to mind: Ali, Tyson, Mayweather, Foreman, Robinson, Louis.

But there are fighters in history who may not have achieved the dizzying heights as some of their contemporaries, and yet still possessed great skill and had great careers. They did so without the help of heavy media coverage, big-name promoters or the undivided attention of sports journalists.

Let’s take a look at a few of the criminally underrated boxers past present.

Mike McCallum

In the mid-to-late eighties, Mike McCallum hit his prime and was a hard-hitting technician. McCallum was known for his toughness and his exceptionally durable chin. Nicknamed “The Bodysnatcher,” his lifetime professional boxing record was 49-5. None of those losses were by knockout.

McCallum perhaps got overshadowed by a few other middleweights of the same era, namely Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns. Nonetheless, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003 and The Ring Magazine ranked him number eight in their list of the ten best middleweight title holders of the last 50 years.

Salvador Sanchez

Avid boxing fans are aware of Mexican featherweight Salvador Sanchez, but he never reached the legendary heights of some of his contemporaries. Sanchez’s unfortunate premature death is probably a big reason why he didn’t become a household name. At the time of his death in 1982, Sanchez was only 23 but had a professional boxing record of 41-1-1.

Sanchez was an unsung hero of the ring and notably defeated Archie Moore. Most boxing enthusiasts agree he would have likely went on to become the best featherweight boxer of all time had he not died so young.

Ken Norton

Ken Norton didn’t start his boxing career until his early 20s. But he was such a skilled athlete throughout his early life that the State of Illinois had to institute a rule, now dubbed the “Ken Norton Rule,” that limits the number of events someone can enter in a track and field meet to prevent one person from winning an entire meet on their own.

Ken Norton,42(33)-7(4)-1, did not start boxing at all until he was a Marine in his early 20’s. He was such a great athlete that the State of Illinois instituted a “Ken Norton Rule” during his high school career to limit the number of events a competitor could enter in a track and field meet, to prevent athletes like Norton from winning entire meets on their own.

Norton had flaws as a fighter, though I would contend that some of the criticism of his chin is overstated. His four KO losses were against George Foreman, Earnie Shavers, Gerry Cooney (in his final fight)—three very big punchers. His fourth was against Jose Luis Garcia, still fairly early in his development.

Norton gave Muhammad Ali as much trouble as anybody except Joe Frazier. He beat him once by split decision, lost to him by split decision and then lost their final fight by a razor-thin, hotly-contested unanimous decision.