Throughout the history of boxing fans have voiced their opinion as to who they feel were overrated and underrated during certain eras in the sport. It will take me too long to go into a discussion about the all time most underrated and overrated fighters, though names like Mike McCallum, Vernon Forrest, Wilfred Benitez, and Antonio Tarver come to mind, among many others. I want to focus on the current crop of top contenders, champions, and prospects who either enjoy the benefits of media and promotional hype or ride the rail under the radar for whatever reason. It's hard to believe how underrated Andre Ward was going into the Super Six Tournament. Everyone knew he was talented but his lack of big fight experience and relatively quiet professional career before the Super Six began kept him beneath the surface while the bigger names from Europe like Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch were by conventional standards the favorites going in. It took something as innovative and at times drawn out and disorganized as the Super Six Tournament to truly appreciate and realize just how good Andre Ward was.
Again it's hard to imagine S.O.G. as an underrated fighter given that he's one of the best pound for pound and the best super middleweight in the world. Perhaps its best to define him as an unappreciated fighter who fans cast as boring stylistically and uninteresting outside the ring. When larger than life personalities like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao dominate the boxing box office fans naturally gravitate toward the more flashy characters as oppose to someone as unassuming as Andre Ward. He fights, he wins, and then he goes home to his family in Oakland; that's about it.
To round out my thoughts here's my list of underrated and overrated fighters:
Juan Manuel Marquez*
*Marquez often gets mentioned a majority of the time in reference to Manny Pacquiao. However Juan's career extends far beyond those three fights with Manny. Most casual fans equate the two exclusively, but they fail to realize just how much he accomplished with or without Manny Pacquiao as his chief rival. I've said this before and I believe it to be true that when history looks back at both Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, Marquez's career will be in higher standing among the all time greats.
*Froch might have been the most overrated fighter in 2011. I'm not quite sure what it was that made people think his fight with Andre Ward was a 50/50 pick em. The win over Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson made people stop in awe of Froch as this beast yet the same people weren't as impressed with Andre Ward's dominating performance over Abraham and the guy who beat Froch Mikkel Kessler. Maybe it was the personalities of the two fighters or people didn't want to give Ward his props but I still to this day can't fathom why anyone thought Carl Froch had a 50/50 shot at beating Andre Ward.
So there it is, I know many of you might disagree with my "overrated" list. You're probably thinking that Kirkland is what he is and that no one rates him particularly high to begin with. I guess I'm thinking more a long the lines of hype as well as overall talent. Brandon Rios though I like him to me is the most overrated lightweight hands down. For all his crowd pleasing attributes inside the ring I know at least five of the current lightweights that would beat him fairly easily (Burns, Lonares, Marquez, Mitchell, DeMarco).
If you guys have anyone to add to either list, maybe take off one of the guys I had on my list that's cool. What gave me the idea to make the lists in the first place was the Tavoris Cloud/Gabriel Camplillo fight. I used to be very impressed with Cloud until this fight. Afterwards I thought he wasn't as good as suspected and even though Nathan Cleverly s the most overrated light heavyweight in the world I wouldn't be at all surprised if he beat Tavoris Cloud. I'm thinking a remake of the Joe Calzaghe/Jeff Lacy fight. Lacy was seen as this ferocious puncher who would walk through Joe Calzaghe and instead Calzaghe exposed him and Jeff was never the same after that fight. As a matter of fact if I made an all time or a "Most Overrated of the last 25 years" Jeff Lacy would easily crack the top ten.