Ranking the Most Underappreciated Fighters in Boxing Today

Brian McDonald@@sackedbybmacContributor ISeptember 16, 2014

Ranking the Most Underappreciated Fighters in Boxing Today

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    The intent of this list and the factors of what decided which boxers made the list should be pretty obvious.

    Boxers who made this list are all extremely talented and have accomplished great things in the sport, but for one reason or another they have not received the attention and respect from fans and the media that they deserve.

    As I'll go into over the next several slides, for some it may be that they fight mostly overseas or that their style of boxing is viewed as boring to the average fan. In many cases I agree with that opinion, but the supreme skill of these boxers should still be recognized and applauded.

    If I could jump into a time machine and make this list in 2012 or early 2013, Gennady Golovkin would have been at the top. However, since that time his entertaining style and personality have made him arguably the favorite fighter of most hardcore fight fans.

    All of the boxers on this list are great; the question is why don't more people talk about their greatness?

5. Keith Thurman

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Until he performs poorly to give me caution, I would pick Keith Thurman to beat any welterweight who isn't named Floyd Mayweather Jr.

    That's high praise for a boxer whose resume doesn't feature many, if any, big names, but Thurman's skill set is top notch and he's more rounded in his overall game than many other boxers in the division.

    Guys like Marcos Maidana are all offense while Mayweather and Timothy Bradley lean too heavily to the defensive side at times, but Thurman has great skill in both areas. He's capable of making you miss with good foot speed and head movement and then knocking you out with one punch; his knockout percentage is impressive.

    The only thing holding Thurman back is being able to secure a fight with a big name that is willing to step in the ring with him. Since Thurman isn't a huge name yet, there isn't much financial reward for other top fighters for taking on such a huge risk.

    Until Thurman lands and wins a big fight there will continue to be doubters about where he ranks in the division, which is likely why he remains underappreciated and underrated.

4. Demetrius Andrade

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The undefeated titleholder crushed his mandatory challenger Brian Rose last June and will now look to move up to 160 pounds for a shot at the title vacated by Peter Quillin. With so few options available to him at 154 pounds, a victory would make Demetrius Andrade a two-division world champion.

    The boxer known as "Boo Boo" doesn't have a ton of victories over big-name opponents so far during his professional career, but he did defeat Keith Thurman twice while both were amateur fighters. Andrade was also a national Golden Gloves champion twice while an amateur fighter.

    So why is a decorated amateur fighter with a professional world title and an undefeated record not more widely recognized as a great boxer? Like Thurman on the previous slide, he just hasn't fought big enough names yet to grab people's attention.

    If Andrade does win the WBO middleweight title over Matt Korobov, then a matchup against Gennady Golovkin could be possible, which would give a huge boost to his name recognition and popularity.

3. Nicholas Walters

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    Kin Cheung/Associated Press

    Another undefeated world champion who no one outside of the hardcore fanbase knows about is Nicholas Walters.

    Part of the problem for Nicholas Walters is that he fights in a division that doesn't receive a ton of attention. The featherweight division seems to only get its big fights on premium TV channels if it's for a world title and even then that big fight is usually on the undercard instead of being the main event.

    Boxing starts at lightweight for many fans, so the accomplishments of any fighter at a lighter level tend to get ignored.

    Walters' accomplishments won't go unnoticed for much longer. The "Axe Man" has knocked out 10 of his last 11 opponents and 20 overall out of his 24 overall career fights. That string of success has landed him a fight against a big name—Nonito Donaire—on the undercard for Gennady Golovkin vs. Marco Antonio Rubio.

    If Walters defeats Donaire—especially if it's by knockout—he'll receive a big bump in popularity much in the same way Terrence Crawford did after his win over Yuriorkis Gamboa.

2. Guillermo Rigondeaux

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    He's boring. Yep, I know and I completely agree with you.

    While his style puts many to sleep, you can't argue that Guillermo Rigondeaux is supremely talented and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Other than Leo Santa Cruz—if that fight ever happens—not sure anyone else in his division can even give Rigondeaux a competitive fight.

    Why he's underappreciated is pretty obvious here; no one wants to watch him fight because of his boring style. I don't mind watching a defensive fighter, but Rigondeaux, like many others from the Cuban school of boxing, has turned defensive fighting into flat-out running.

    Fair or not, I'm not going to invest time and money into watching a boxer if all he's interested in doing while inside the ring is cardio work. I'm obviously not the only one who feels that way as evidenced by HBO refusing to put him on TV back in July, which put his latest title defense on UniMas instead.

    For an undefeated world champion who had his previous couple of fights on a major premium channel to get pushed on to UniMas tells you all you need to know. Despite being one of the most skilled boxers on the planet, Rigondeaux will continue to be under appreciated because very few people want to watch him "fight".

    Very simple to figure out and understand.

1. Marco Huck

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    Associated Press

    The cruiserweight division could really double as a witness protection program here in America. Most hardcore fans have heard of longtime champion Marco Huck, but I doubt they've watched many of his fights or are capable of naming three other prominent fighters in that division.

    Not a knock on you because I'm in the same boat; to help us all out here are the division rankings from ESPN.

    Huck's latest victory was his 13th consecutive successful title defense, which tied Johnny Nelson's cruiserweight record. He's held the belt for five years, is setting records and making history and almost no one in America knows who he is or has seen him fight; think that easily qualifies him for being under appreciated.

    In three fights against Ola Afolabi, Huck came away with a draw and two close majority decisions and lost an attempt at winning a heavyweight title against Alexander Povetkin in 2012, so maybe his success is a product of his situation and not his own supreme talent.

    I'm not suggesting he isn't a very skilled fighter, but are his record accomplishments more due to him being great or because the division is weak? Hard to say for sure, but that perception along with so few people knowing about him is why he continues to be an underappreciated champion.

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