Bernard Hopkins is true boxing royalty. "I see myself as the Godfather," he told me in an interview last year. "Maybe I'm not the top pound-for-pound guy at this point, but I'm still the Godfather. I'm the guy, when I'm back stage and I say something, the young guys all step closer to hear."
So the ageless Hopkins gets his respect. But I'd argue that he's still underappreciated and has been not just for the past decade but for much of his nearly 30-year career. This boxing wizard is routinely dismissed as "boring" by the casual fan who cares only for stand-and-trade wars.
Defensive geniuses like Hopkins are a common theme on this list. In earlier decades, a guy like Willie Pep could be appreciated as a major star. In today's climate, the fighter who has mastered the art of hitting without getting hit is charged with being a "runner" by video-game-desensitized fans.
Little guys, too, don't get the credit they deserve and figure prominently here. In a nation that seems to get fatter every year, fans don't even seem to want to pay attention to a small guy who can throw down.
Ultimately, of course, "underappreciated" is a matter of subjective opinion and perspective. Every fighter on this list has a big group of fans. But the casual fans, if they've heard of these guys at all, seem downright indifferent to how hard it is to do what these guys do.