Some fighters are overrated. Some fighters are underrated. Fight fans love to argue about which fighters fall into which category. Message boards are built on these types of arguments and barber shops have a history of them. However, there are a few boxers throughout history that have managed to be both simultaneously. Following is a list of the top four fighters that managed to be underrated AND overrated at the same time.
As a side note; this list does not mention fighters in the middle of their careers. I believe that every fighter has a tendency to be both overrated and underrated while they are active.
Roy Jones Jr. had dazzling hand and foot speed. He could do things in the ring the likes of which have rarely been seen. Fans were mesmerized by five hooks in one second or a knock out that started with his hands behind his back. The problem becomes apparent when the opposition is analyzed. The best prove themselves by fighting the best and Roy’s choice in opposition often left a lot to be desired. Fans that have called him amongst the best pound for pound fighters of all time are grossly overrating him. It is impossible to measure Jones Jr. against the likes of Ali, Ray Robinson, or Ray Leonard because, unlike these men, he did not consistently challenge himself to be great.
In between beating mailmen and police officers Roy Jones Jr. accomplished a lot. He humiliated James Toney, was a standout amateur, beat Bernard Hopkins, won titles in four weight classes, and toyed with the much larger John Ruiz. No, he didn’t always fight who we wanted him to but his accomplishments are hard to ignore. Good match making alone cannot make a man the pound for pound champion for the better part of a decade. We underrate Roy Jones Jr. partially because of who we compare him to. He is not Ali, Ray Robinson, or Ray Leonard but then again, who is? Instead of being called out for what he was not he should be praised for what he was; a hall of fame fighter and one of the greatest talents of a generation.
Arturo Gatti is overrated because it is hard to not love him. Gatti became a fan favorite with a constant stream of fighter of the year caliber battles and come from behind victories. The problem is that love can be blinding. Gatti was arguably never ‘the champ’ during either of his title reigns and has few truly notable wins against top level competition. Losses to the likes Ivan Robinson and Angel Manfredy do not make for a hall of fame career.
Arturo Gatti is underrated because people do not give enough credence to the longevity of his career. Gatti was able to put his vices on hold to make an improbable second title run. Few all action, high volume fighters last very long. Few fighters that make a lot of money are willing to go back to square one and retool their skill set. Few sluggers are able to learn defense and tactical skills. Gatti did all three of these. This may not make him a hall of fame worthy fighter but it does make him dedicated and unique.
Mike Tyson is exploded into boxing culture with a barrage of highlight real knock outs. Fight fans love knock outs and Tyson did his best to accommodate with every punch he threw. It was the spectacle of Trevor Berbick stumbling around the ring and Michael Spinks destruction left fight fans blind to Tyson’s short comings. Tyson lacked the ability to counter with a plan B, his biggest win was over a light heavyweight, and he was stopped against his best opposition.
Further Tyson had a squared up stance, an inability to punch while moving backwards, and a tendency to fall into lunging attacks. It is difficult to compare him not just to Ali, Louis, or Johnson but to the technically superior and more versatile Holmes, Holyfield, or Lewis.
Mike Tyson is underrated primarily as a backlash against his hardcore fan base. Due to Tyson’s crossover appeal a large number of fans who were uneducated in boxing began watching the sport and immediately declared him the ‘baddest man on the planet’. Hardcore boxing fans and historians grimaced and countered with the idea that Tyson was fortunate to come up when the heavyweight opposition was weak or that he was one dimensional.
However, it can’t be ignored that he was the youngest heavyweight ever, possessed exceptional had speed for a heavyweight, and that he was one of the rare unified champions in modern times. He may not have been the best ever but he is absolutely a top twenty heavyweight of all time and a hall of fame fighter.
49-0. Rocky Marciano holds one of the most prestigious records not just in boxing but in all of sports. Marciano was the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated. However, Marciano rarely beat a marquee talent at their prime. Many of his best wins come against undersized light heavyweights or men who could order from the senior menu at a restaurant. This record has become even more overblown in modern times where undefeated is often confused with greatness.
Rocky Marciano is underrated because with no notable exceptions he defeated the absolute best of his era. With a focus and determination rarely seen in the sport Marciano amassed an 88% knockout ratio. Maybe if Marciano had been born a little earlier his porous defense would have been cracked by a prime Joe Louis. Perhaps if he had been born later the speed and accuracy would have torn the easily cut Marciano to shreds. Those are only hypothetical. What is reality is that the best of his era could not beat Marciano. Rocky did not amass his record fighting nobodies. He earned it fighting everybody.
This is my first Bleacher Report article. If you loved it please let me know and if you hated it let me know that too. All I ask is that you include a ‘why’.
Thank you for reading.