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Who are the most underrated fighters of all time?

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Post by 88Chris05 Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:58 am

Ayup chaps, everyone enjoying Lent?

Anyway, inspired by Trussman's 'Who is the most overrated fighter in history?' thread (it's James J. Corbett, by the way!), I thought I'd see if anyone is interested in looking at the other side of the coin and see who we think the most underrated fighter(s) to have graced the sport are. I'll get the ball rolling with a few candidates of my own - let me know what you think of the names I've picked, if you agree or disagree, and let me know who you think deserves consideration here, and in what context you feel they're underrated.

First up for me, Tommy Ryan. I remember when Jimmy Stuart coined the term 'the pound for pound great that nobody remembers' to describe Ryan, and he was right. Ryan was a two-weight world champion in the days when there were only five weight classes (Light-Heavyweight, Lightweight and Flyweight didn't come in to existence until after Ryan's days as world champion) and, to this day, not a great deal of fighters have done the proper, legitimate Welterweight / Middleweight double like Ryan did. He was beaten only three times in 105 professional contests; two of them were to Charles 'Kid' McCoy, one hell of a fighter in his own right, and the other was on a disqualification. He served as Welterweight champion for five years between 1891 and 1896, seeing off the likes of 'Mysterious' Billy Smith and the great 'Nonpareil' Jack Dempsey, before increasing weight (the Welter limit stood at 142 lb at the time) forced him up to Middle. There, he took the title in 1898, made five successful defences and then hung up his gloves while still champion, after which there was no universally accepted king of the Middleweights until Stanley Ketchel. And yet, outside of the obsessives, the lad hardly gets a mention.

Next, Ronald 'Winky' Wright. Perhaps more 'underappreciated' than underrated, if that makes any sense, but either way a fighter who never quite got his just dues. A road warrior of the highest order, I believe he was ripped off against Vargas (not helped by giving away the twelfth round, but still!), unlucky not to take the Middleweight title from Taylor and roundly avoided by a few big names from the late nineties to around 2005 / 2006. Either way, a fine technician with a superb defence who had some great attacking fighters - Vargas, Mosley, Trinidad etc - looking pretty toothless. In particular, his masterclass against Trinidad showed Winky at his very best.

Wesley Ramey. When fighters as great as Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri, Henry Armstrong and Lou Ambers are all, either reportedly or visibly, reluctant to defend their world Lightweight / Light-Welterweight titles against someone, you know that someone is a special fighter. Canzoneri, a bonafide pound for pound great in his own right, did square off against Ramey in a non-title bout in 1933; but once he'd been on the wrong end of a wide decision, he flat out refused to risk his 135 lb belt against the same man, even reportedly turning down a guarantee of $25,000 - a huge amount for a title fight outside of the Heavyweight division in the Depression years - to do so. Lou Ambers, another Lightweight legend, showed no interest in taking Ramey on in his time as champion. When Ambers did lose his crown, it was to the hard-punching Lew Jenkins - a man who Ramey had already beaten twice. Despite having virtually no knockout power of his own, Ramey also managed to defeat world champions of the calibre of Johnny Jadick, Benny Bass, Leo Rodack and Battling Shaw, and was described by historian Laurence Fielding as "one of the great scientific boxers of the thirties, a Corbett (!) or Tunney of the Lightweights." A great fighter sadly forgotten and overlooked.

Terry Norris, anyone? When Norris retired in 1997, only two men (Joe Louis and Julio Cesar Chavez) had ever boxed more world title fights, a pretty remarkable feat considering that Norris was still only thirty when the curtain came down on his career. Three separate times he battled back from a shocking setback or adversity to establish (or re-establish) himself as one of the world's best fighters; after suffering a sickening second-round stoppage against Julian Jackson for Jackson's WBA 154 lb belt in Norris' first world title outing, after being surprisingly flattened by Simon Brown in what was expected to be a routine thirteenth defence of his WBC Light-Middleweight title in 1993, and after a pair of almost identical disqualification losses to Luis Santana a couple of years later. Between all of that, however, there were some fantastic performances thanks to his sublime speed, great reflexes and dazzling punch power, with the two standouts being his thorough outclassing of future WBA Middleweight champion Jorge Fernando Castro and his revenge win over Brown in 1994. If the first Brown fight showed the erratic Norris' vulnerabilities, the return highlighted what a wonderful talent he was and, by rights, he should really have been a superstar. Instead, despite his huge talent and many years at the top of the 154 lb weight class, he's often seen as a mere afterthought when we think back to the 1990s.

And finally, Gene Fullmer. Unfairly overshadowed in many respects by Carmen Basilio and Jake La Motta when Middleweight boxing of the fifties and early sixties is remembered, but Fullmer, the son of Utah Mormons, beat Basilio twice and certainly deserves to command a higher rank as a Middleweight than Carmen, and is quite simply a far greater fighter than La Motta in all capacities and from whichever angle you choose to view them from. More or less split a four-fight series with an older but still great Robinson down the middle (consensus is that their drawn fight should have been ruled in Ray's favour) and there are very few 'safe' defences on Gene's ledger once he got his hands on the 160 lb title. Before that, his only real loss of any signiciance was to Eduardo Lausse - but let's not forget that Lausse was, perhaps, the best 'career' Middleweight to have never won the divisional crown. A top ten Middleweight of all time, in my humble opinion.

So come on then, lads. Who else should be included here? If they're underrated in your eyes, then give them their moment in the sun now. Cheers, everyone.
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Post by Gee Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:08 am

Michael Watson would be one for me. Mostly remember for his tragic fight with Eubank, but was a very accomplished boxer and most seem to never look past the rematch he had with Eubank. All talk about the Collins/Benn/Eubanks of the British middle/SMW scene but Watson always gets left off rather cruelly in my eyes.

Of todays fighters would say Froch gets a bit of a bad one. Yes he's rated, but his resume is far above that of a Broner who makes it into some peoples P4P lists.




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Post by hampo17 Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:11 am

That is because Broner was considered top dog in both of his divisons. Froch is considered second or third by a long way behind Ward.

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Post by Rowley Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:14 am

To be honest Chris think the aforementioned Jack Dempsey (middle) fits the bill. If he is remembered at all now it is largely for being the guy who gave Fitzsimmons his first title and whilst it would be a little creative to suggest he took anything other than an absolute shellacking in that one it does tend to overlook the ten years prior to that where he was as near to untouchable as any champion you’d like to mention. Obviously have to have the caveat that in that era it can be hard to get a gauge on how good some of the opposition was but have always felt anyone who rules the roost for nigh on ten years deserved to be remembered for a little more than getting confused with someone who nicked his name.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:18 am

At the risk of being terribly predictable and boring, Ricardo Lopez.

Too small to be considered a true great? Not enough competition in and around his weight? Should/could have fought Gonzalez, Carbajal, Arbachakov, Johnson? All these have been leveled at El Finito on here before and he sometimes slips under the radar despite his greatness (and some posters persistent championing of him!) and undeniable talent.

Having researched his record, it is no-where near as patchy as I used to think and his talent is so glaringly obvious, I think he deserves to be pretty high up in any all time great lists. I would have somewhere between 30 - 50 but closer to the top end of that. Almost certainly the 3rd best Mexican of all time (behind Chavez and Sanchez) and has everything you need to be considered a great. Longevity, champion in two divisions, searingly good skills and an undefeated record. I don't think there is anyone in history around his weight that I would put as a heavy favourite against him. He matches up well against them all.

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Post by Gee Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:18 am

hampo171 wrote:That is because Broner was considered top dog in both of his divisons. Froch is considered second or third by a long way behind Ward.

Don't see a reason as to why Ward and Froch couldn't both be rated on the P4P list. The latter has gone through everyone and has lost twice having faced the best of the best etc. I can probably agree to disagree but post Kessler, who I fancy him to beat this time round, will be interesting to see whether he makes the mythical list. And Calderon was top dog for more time than I can remember, yet got knowhere near etc.


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Post by Sam_London Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:23 am

Unfortunately Froch's victories havn't always been convincing (r.e. Dirrell and Taylor) whereas Broner seems to win at a canter. As for underated fighters, does anyone think that Lloyd Honeyghan should be given more credit for his fighting skills? He doesn't usually feature in poster's top 10 British boxers.

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Post by Rowley Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:23 am

Would also add Jimmy Bivins to the mix Chris. As the black murderers row become more well known this is becoming less the case but when I was researching the uncrowned champions series it was really bought home to me just how good Bivins was during the war years. Is obviously arguable but this was possible the strongest period ever for the light heavyweight division and would not be exaggerating to say Bivins marked himself out as top dog during that period. During his career he beat eight world champions, when one considers this eight contains true legends such as Moore and Charles as well as decent types like Battina Christoforidis, and Lesnevich and you begin to get an impression just how good he was. Add into that respectable records against a lot of the other black murderers row and is more than possible Bivins was the best fighter in the world during his pomp.

His post war record does become a little sketchy, however as the two people who read the uncrowned champions series will know there are reasons behind that. Would struggle to imagine there are too many fighters with Jimmy’s record who are as unheard of or rated as he is.

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Post by hazharrison Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:23 am

Esteban DeJesus
Sonny Liston
Jersey Joe Walcott
Holman Williams
Meldrick Taylor
Bennie Briscoe

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:27 am

Aaron Pryor has to be the most underrated fighter ever. Beat 2 atg in Arguello and Cerventes and reigned as champ for a long time.

Great great fighter. Number 1 in my top ten 140lbs fighters of all time.

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Post by Adam D Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:29 am

Evander Holyfield.

The heart (although not fully functioning) of a real warrior.

never ducked anyone, completely destroyed the myth of tyson, had two of the best heavyweight fights of the last 25 years (with Bowe) and was effectively a Cruiserweight doing it.

And he can apparently run the 100m around the 10 second mark.
in his prime.

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Post by captain carrantuohil Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:37 am

Some, such as Tunney, Jofre, McCallum and Ezzard Charles, have been scandalously underrated over the years. However, there has been a general shift in recent perception, which has allowed them to receive more of their due lately.

Lew Tendler, Ike Williams, Harold Johnson and Carlos Zarate still don't get anything like the props that they deserve, for me.

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:41 am

Ike Williams is a good shout along with the great Beau Jack. It seems most on here do not know of their careers. I would pick Ike to beat Duran and what a fight.

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:43 am

Adam D wrote:Evander Holyfield.

The heart (although not fully functioning) of a real warrior.

never ducked anyone, completely destroyed the myth of tyson, had two of the best heavyweight fights of the last 25 years (with Bowe) and was effectively a Cruiserweight doing it.

And he can apparently run the 100m around the 10 second mark.
in his prime.
[/color]

I believe if I am not mistaken that he started off in American football before boxing.


Last edited by ONETWOFOREVER on Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:44 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Il Gialloblu Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:44 am

Good question Chris.

I'd say, so far anyway, it's been alright. It's no Christmas though is it? Not given anything up as yet but I might do, if I think of something that I do but don't actually like. Roll on Easter though I say.

Also, at British rather than World level, what about Michael Watson? What he actually did (and could do) in the ring seems too often forgotten, which is perhaps understandable but also a shame.
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Post by Lumbering_Jack Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:52 am

Really like evander and think he was a fabulous fighter but that under 10 second hundred metres is a load of nonsense. You have to do a lot of specific sprint training to get to that level.

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Post by Lumbering_Jack Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:54 am

Really like evander and think he was a fabulous fighter but that under 10 second hundred metres is a load of nonsense. You have to do a lot of specific sprint training to get to that level.

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Post by John Bloody Wayne Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:07 am

Adam D wrote:Evander Holyfield.

The heart (although not fully functioning) of a real warrior.

never ducked anyone, completely destroyed the myth of tyson, had two of the best heavyweight fights of the last 25 years (with Bowe) and was effectively a Cruiserweight doing it.

And he can apparently run the 100m around the 10 second mark.
in his prime.

Gotta disagree with you there.

I like Evander alot, his determination, style, attitude and ability all garner respect from me, but I do see him as being rated higher than he earned as a heavyweight due to his warrior mentality.

As a heavyweight he went 1-4 with the best big men he faced (and that 1 may be thanks to the fan man) and 1-1 with Moorer, although his win over Moorer was far more convincing than Moorer's over Evander. He lives off the Tyson victories too much in my opinion, and as a heavyweight doesn't have much else, yet it's not rare to see him ranked top ten.

That said, given the size disadvantage he was usually at, he did have to use a big dose of skill and heart to even things out.

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Post by ShahenshahG Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:07 am

Not under around - A lot of american football players can reach it in just under 11 so thats not that surprising.

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Post by 88Chris05 Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:01 am

Thanks for the comments so far, everyone. Some good picks which I definitely agree with. Not so sure I'd agree with Michael Watson or Holyfield, fine fighters though they were, but I still appreciate those who have nominated them giving their reasons.
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Post by Rowley Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:10 am

I actually think Watson is largely over rated, inspirational figure and clearly not devoid of talent but if we look purely at his record, what is his best win? Nigel Benn? Errol Christie? Is this really enough for him to be held in the esteem he is frequently held in?

Not for me it isn’t.

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Post by ShahenshahG Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:11 am

True but Nigel and Eubank are held far ahead of him which probably gives the impression that hes underrated rather than them being a little overrated.

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Post by 88Chris05 Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:12 am

ShahenshahG wrote:True but Nigel and Eubank are held far ahead of him which probably gives the impression that hes underrated rather than them being a little overrated.

Bingo.
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Post by Makaveli Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:51 am

would anybody agree with junior jones? not in the same category as other guys in his weight category but still i think his alot better than what people give him credit for

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Post by bellchees Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:57 am

Makaveli wrote:would anybody agree with junior jones? not in the same category as other guys in his weight category but still i think his alot better than what people give him credit for

I don't know much about Junior Jones really. He certainly doesn't get much credit for beating a real legend of the sport in Barrera twice, seems to be known as Barreras boogeyman rather than for his own achievements.

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:59 am

Someone mentioned Sonny Liston and I would have to agree with that.
He brought about an era of menace and destruction in the division that today would make more noise then 2 robotic type plodders we have now.

Everyone secretly loves a wrecking machine and Sonny fit the bill. Alas history has chosen to remember him more as Cassius Clay's out thought, out boxed opponent. Sad because he really made waves back then and nobody gave Ali a chance in that fight.

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Post by ShahenshahG Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:00 am

Nah they all hated him back then. Only one who ever loved sonny Liston was Floyd Patterson - who loved everybody except frank sinatra - and Mrs Liston.

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Post by azania Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:55 am

Rowley wrote:I actually think Watson is largely over rated, inspirational figure and clearly not devoid of talent but if we look purely at his record, what is his best win? Nigel Benn? Errol Christie? Is this really enough for him to be held in the esteem he is frequently held in?

Not for me it isn’t.

He beat Eubank in their first fight. Always wondered why boxing fans ignore robberies when discussing fighters.

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:27 am

Watson is a hard one.......Think he had Eubank's number and beat a clue less Benn.........But the fact is he lost to Eubank twice.......First time contentiously and the second time by walking into something he should never have been hit with.....tragically......for all concerned.

Think the manner of his defeat to MCCallum was the most shocking......Thought he'd be too big and got out fought........That fight was a reason to knock him down....

Not sure If Watson was overrated...........I guess Eubank's uppercut made it so we'll never know...

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Post by TheMackemMawler Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:30 am

Ingemar Johansson.

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Post by TheMackemMawler Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:32 am

Chris Byrd
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Post by milkyboy Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:56 am

Makaveli wrote:would anybody agree with junior jones? not in the same category as other guys in his weight category but still i think his alot better than what people give him credit for

I think jones isn't helped by the fact he got knocked out in the two fights post Barrera. Reminds me of frankie Randall. Decent fighter with some good wins, but enough defeats along the way to leave them in that one/two hit wonder category. Vernon Forrest would be another.

Buddy McGirt. Appreciated by many on here, but perhaps better known generally as a trainer than fighter.

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Post by 88Chris05 Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:34 am

Good shout on McGirt, Milky. Gave an absolute peak Whitaker his hardest fight up until that point, and the way he used his legs and pure boxing to totally outclass Brown was brilliant. A really good technical boxer.
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Post by manos de piedra Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:00 am

Ezzard Charles is very often underrated for me, curiously even by boxing historians. From what I have read also, he seems to have been pretty underrated in his own time also and considered a kind of tempremental fighter that sometimes foght and sometimes didnt. I think Ray Arcel described him as a prize racehourse that wouldnt run for you.

The curious thing for me is that his record alone commands such undisputed respect that its curious he just hasnt been held in such high esteem more consistently. I put it down to a few reasons such as maybe the extremelly impressive part of his career simply went under the radar. He never got a title shot at light heavy and perhaps never got much coverage there despite racking up a pretty awesome record there. It seems like he only came to light as a much more inconsistent heavyweight which is maybe where his reputation comes from.

But its not all that unusual to see him ranked in the lower ends of top twenties, or featuring behind Moore/Spinks/Foster at light heavyweight. I cant view him as anything other than top 5 but I find it stranged hes such an unheralded kind of fighter even amongst boxing historians and he just never seemed all that rated back in his own day by the general public, probably becuase he was kept hidden away with many of the other black fighters of the day for a large time.

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Post by TheMackemMawler Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:04 am

Wharton's always the forgotten man of the "Great British Super-Middleweight Era".

I have fond memories of solid fighter.

Henry against a "pre-supersix Froch" would have been a barn stormer.
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Post by Imperial Ghosty Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:13 am

Charles is my number two behind only Robinson Manos, so fully agree with your assessment there.

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Post by TheMackemMawler Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:18 am

Not sure how a HOF'er who's nearly always number 1 in any light heavyweight list can be underrated.
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Post by milkyboy Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:26 am

Gotta disagree on wharton mackem. Henry was a game plodder who had a decent Yorkshire following, which seemed to get him fights his ability didn't warrant. Put up plucky losing performances against benn and eubank but Got gifted one of the worst hometown decisions I have ever seen, against slugger o'toole/fidel Castro smith. The look of shock and embarassment when wharton's hand was raised was a picture.

Smith was Sheffields glen Johnson. Good fighter, who fought on the road and got jobbed regularly.

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Post by RanjitPatel Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:29 am

Matthysse was underrated for a long time but now appears to be finding his standing.
Not sure if anyone's said this name but I feel that De La Hoya can be underrated. Multiple weight world champion that, i feel should be held in greater esteem. Really think that Trinidad and Mosley 2 has affected his rating more than i thought it would at the time.

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Post by TheMackemMawler Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:41 am

milkyboy wrote:Gotta disagree on wharton mackem. Henry was a game plodder who had a decent Yorkshire following, which seemed to get him fights his ability didn't warrant. Put up plucky losing performances against benn and eubank but Got gifted one of the worst hometown decisions I have ever seen, against slugger o'toole/fidel Castro smith. The look of shock and embarassment when wharton's hand was raised was a picture.

Smith was Sheffields glen Johnson. Good fighter, who fought on the road and got jobbed regularly.

Everything is levels. I'm not comparing him to RJJ.

I mean he's underrated by virtue of being overlooked (rather than his actual boxing ability being underrated). However, that said, he squeezed the absolute maximum from what he did have and performed valiantly against the big names.

I don't remember the robberies.

For the young lads too young to remember any of it...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saikP57YJz8



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Post by Imperial Ghosty Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:52 am

I'll say Jim Watt, often labelled as a terrible commentator but often gets overlooked that he was in fact a very fine boxer, O'Grady and Davis jnr were no mugs while he put up a very valiant losing effort against Arguello.

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Post by gboycottnut Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:27 pm

Barry McGuigan? Lloyd Honeyghan? Larry Holmes? James Buster Douglas (for being only 1 of 2 boxers in the history of boxing to have knocked out/defeated Mike Tyson).

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Post by Il Gialloblu Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:42 pm

88Chris05 wrote:
ShahenshahG wrote:True but Nigel and Eubank are held far ahead of him which probably gives the impression that hes underrated rather than them being a little overrated.

Bingo.

Aye. It was me that mentioned Watson in the first place and this probably sums up my reasoning really. Cheers Shah.
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Post by Il Gialloblu Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:47 pm

gboycottnut wrote:Barry McGuigan? Lloyd Honeyghan? Larry Holmes? James Buster Douglas (for being only 1 of 2 boxers in the history of boxing to have knocked out/defeated Mike Tyson).

Headscratch

Are you forgetting Danny Williams?
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Post by bhb001 Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:27 pm

Archie Moore for me. Well respected universally, but the accomplishments of the man, fighting over 200 times, often jumping between middle, light heavy and heavyweight, with an excellent record at all three weights often get glossed over due to losing to Marciano. The man is a legend

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Post by ShahenshahG Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:29 pm

gboycott you running out of bites on the cricket board?

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Post by bhb001 Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:32 pm

Shah, I don't understand. I'll assume that the comment is directed elsewhere and I just walked across it.

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Post by ShahenshahG Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:34 pm

aye at gboycottnut up there

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Post by monty junior Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:00 pm

Adam D wrote:Evander Holyfield.

The heart (although not fully functioning) of a real warrior.

never ducked anyone, completely destroyed the myth of tyson, had two of the best heavyweight fights of the last 25 years (with Bowe) and was effectively a Cruiserweight doing it.

And he can apparently run the 100m around the 10 second mark.
in his prime.

Agreed , Holyfield was the ultimate warrior, all well and good taking punishment from guys your own size but fighting the biggest punchers in the world fight after fight being outweighed by 30 pounds shows how gutsy he was. Seems like he's paying for it a bit now though Crying or Very sad

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Post by bhb001 Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:27 pm

Shah, slow this morning!! Thanks for the clarification

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