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The Most Underrated and Most Overrated Boxers: Part Two of Our Survey

In this month’s survey, we asked our regular cast of noted boxing buffs to identify the fighters — active or retired, living or dead — who in their estimation were most underrated and/or most

Ted Sares

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In this month’s survey, we asked our regular cast of noted boxing buffs to identify the fighters — active or retired, living or dead — who in their estimation were most underrated and/or most overrated. The story yielded by the survey is running in two parts with respondents listed alphabetically. Here’s Part Two.

JIM LAMPLEY- linchpin of the HBO announcing team and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee: This is another premise which is so broad and elemental that the range of possible responses is almost overwhelming. Take the underrated category: how many modern fans even know who Barney Ross was? How many are aware there is a case to be made (not by me, but by others I respect) for Harry Greb ahead of Sugar Ray Robinson as number one all-time? We could go on ad nauseum, so to make this categorical I’ll just select two ultra-recognizable relatively recent names from the most visible division.

Underrated:  This is counter-intuitive in that he got overwhelming acclaim, but I am not sure to this day enough fans and followers truly understand and appreciate what George Foreman did. To win the legitimate heavyweight crown twice, twenty years apart, as two entirely different fighters and two even more entirely different human beings, is not just one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of boxing, it is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of competitive sports. He is not the greatest of all heavyweight kings — take your pick between Ali and Louis — but he is to me clearly the most underrated, because his awesome physicality obscures the fact he beat Michael Moorer with his mind. I can never give him too much credit for that.

Overrated: This choice actually hurts, because I regard the fighter as a dear friend, and covering him was the pedestal on which I built my boxing commentary career. But many fans think of Mike Tyson almost exclusively in images of his early career knockout string against mostly deficient opponents, and ignore what happened when he reached the point of going in against live ammunition. His best win was over a blown-up light heavyweight. His supposed colossal upset loss to Buster Douglas was actually an on-merit style loss, foreshadowed by his route-going decisions against Mitch Green, Tony Tucker, Bonecrusher Smith, and his last round knockout of Jose Ribalta. And against his Hall of Fame contemporaries Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, more style problems, zero and three, and in my view the likelihood he would never have been able to beat either one. Mike was a sensational talent but with certain limitations, and the extreme glamour of his early genesis ultimately makes him the most overrated heavyweight. Doesn’t mean I don’t love him, because I do. But only honest answers really count.

ARNE LANG – TSS editor in chief: At the risk of being branded a moron, Henry Armstrong doesn’t make my all-time Top Ten. True, he held three title belts simultaneously in an era when there were only eight weight classes. Jim Murray wrote that fighting Hammering’ Hank was like fighting a rock slide. But my goodness, he fought a lot of stiffs. During one stretch in 1939, he successfully defended his welterweight title five times in a span of 21 days. That boggles the imagination until one examines his opposition. Howard Scott, the second victim, had lost 10 of his last 11. Bobby Pacho, the fifth victim, finished his career with 70 losses. As for the most underrated, too many names jump to mind to single out just one guy.

RON LIPTON – world class boxing referee, former fighter, boxing historian, retired police officer: One of the toughest men I ever knew and sparred with many times, Jose Monon Gonzalez, came from an era where only real Lions and Tigers prowled the middleweight division. To me he was the toughest fighter to ever come out of Puerto Rico. The great boxing writer Mario Rivera also told me that. Jose was not the greatest but the roughest and most fearless fighter who fought you in the pocket all night long.  He beat Rubin Carter, Joey Archer, Florentino Fernandez, Rocky Rivero, Luis Rodriguez, Ted Wright, Cyclone Hart, Vicente Rondon, Don Fullmer and so many others. He had losses but usually went the distance trying to tear your guts out in the pocket all night long. He was like a Shawn Porter, all over you, making you fight hard or go down. He was always underrated and people who did that left the ring sadder and wiser most of the time.

Overrated? I take a pass on this one out of respect for all boxers.

PAUL MAGNO – author, writer, and boxing official in Mexico: “The Body Snatcher” Mike McCallum is vastly underrated by modern day boxing fans and even many old timers. He reached his prime at the tail end of the “Four Kings'” era and none of these guys (Leonard, Hearns, Duran, and Hagler) thought about even trying to engage the talented old-school boxer. McCallum’s phenomenal talent and immense skill were never tested against true ATG-level fighters until he was well past his prime and a division above his optimal weight– and, even then, he managed to hold his own.

As for overrated, I’ll incur the wrath of all Welsh fight fans here, but Joe Calzaghe was overrated during his career and is especially overrated now, at the cringe-worthy level, as the realities of his career fade into the past. Sure, he was a talented guy, but any honest assessment of his resume has to take note of the fact that he was, almost exclusively, hand-fed soft touches for 95 percent of his career. High-water mark wins against Mikkel Kessler, a deeply overrated Jeff Lacy, and past-their-primes Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins over the course of a 15-year, 22-world title fight career do not fit the bill of legend-level accomplishment, And, yep, I still don’t think he really beat Hopkins.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE – boxing writer, law school lecturer, author: The most overrated boxer among the elite fighters of today I’d say is Sergey Kovalev. He is formidable with good balance and heavy-hitting power. Fight him at mid-range at your peril. But his fights with Isaac Chilemba and Andre Ward exposed his shortcomings: poor stamina, non-existent inside-fighting skills and vulnerability to body shots. (Editor’s note: this was written before Kovalev’s fight with Eleider Alvarez.)

The most underrated boxer from the past I would offer as Ezzard Charles. His losses to Jersey Joe Walcott and Rocky Marciano as well as the reluctance of the public to embrace him after the end of the Joe Louis era all served to detract from his sublime boxing skills.

MARK “SCOOP” MALINOWSKI – the “biofile” man: To pick the most underrated boxers present and past is very difficult because there are so many talents who didn’t get their just due or the big super fights they earned and deserved. The ones who spring to mind for me are prime Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito who I strongly believe would have both devoured Floyd at 147 but were denied their opportunities to become superstars. The boxing establishment was set up back then to protect Floyd, who was the installed and protected “face of boxing.” I also feel Buster Douglas is underrated by history. He boxed a masterpiece vs Tyson and could have beaten just about anyone from history that night. Today, the most underrated are Terence Crawford and Gennady Golovkin. Both are all time greats but have been avoided by their top name competition. One of the flaws of boxing today is that there are many very underrated talents out there who don’t get the TV exposure and big fights they deserve.

DAVID MARTINEZ – boxing historian and boxing site manager: Most underrated is Jerry Quarry with Randy Shields a close second. Most overrated is Chuck Davey with Sean O’Grady a close second.

LARRY MERCHANT – most underrated boxer: Riddick Bowe; most overrated ring commentator: me

ERNESTO MORALES (aka GENO FEBUS) – boxing writer and former fighter:  Wow, a tough one but I have to go with Ezzard Charles. He was only a natural middleweight beefed up to light heavy because his manager knew at 160 he’d never get a break. Then he was forced to move up again for the same reasons. Could you expect Zale’s Graziano’s, Cerdan’s, LaMotta’s ,Lesnevich’s, Mills’, Maxim’s managers risking their titles vs Charles?? Or Blinky Palermo and gang for that matter?? He would’ve had to pawn the rest of his career to get his deserved opportunities!! He wasn’t a light heavy when he moved up and was never a true heavy even in his best years in that division. Greatest LH of all time without ever winning that division’s title.

J RUSSELL PELTZ – the face of boxing in Philadelphia; 2004 IBHOF inductee: I believe Rocky Marciano was the most underrated and most overrated fighter of all time. Think about that!

FREDERICK ROMANO – author and former HBO researcher: For my money the most underrated is Ezzard Charles. Forget about his run as a heavyweight. After cutting his teeth on a host of top middleweights in his early years he went on to become an all-time great 175lb fighter. Ask Archie Moore. His race, style and disposition hindered him. Even a fading Charles was able to give Marciano his toughest title defense. As for the most overrated it is so tough to say because almost always an overrated fighter eventually becomes exposed and does not maintain that status. People are starting to talk about Floyd Mayweather Jr. as if he is up there with Ali and the like. No dice. A really talented fighter in his prime and at his best weight but he has become glaringly overrated. So, I will go with Floyd.

DANA ROSENBLATT – former world middleweight champion: Most underrated is Yaqui Lopez…….hands down!

TED SARES – TSS writer: most overrated is Cecilia Braekhus, the “First Lady of Boxing.” She is a knockout waiting to happen and Layla McCarter or Amanda Serrano   will oblige her. Most underrated is a tie between Ezzard Charles and Gene Tunney. The only loss Tunney (65-1-1) suffered was to Harry Greb in the first of their five meetings and he also beat Dempsey twice. Enough said. In my view, the super skilled Ezzard Charles fought the highest level of opposition of any fighter in boxing history.

“ICEMAN” JOHN SCULLY- former boxer, trainer, commentator; he’s done it all: In my opinion Rocky Marciano is both the most underrated and the most overrated boxer in history. His detractors have him as an easy to hit guy who beat nothing but senior citizens to achieve his status in the game. His supporters have him beating everyone in history by brutal knockout, including Godzilla and King Kong. In my opinion he is somewhere in the middle. Limited to a certain degree, of course, but he possessed one of the greatest wills of all time and he got the job done 49 times in a row, most of which were by crushing knockouts.

MIKE SILVER – author, writer, historian: How many heavyweights would get up time and again after absorbing the best shots of Joe Louis and Max Baer? My vote for most underrated goes to Primo Carnera. Despite the fixed fights and phony build-up he was a gutsy hard-working fighter who eventually absorbed enough skill and technique to defeat some decent boxers. Developed a good jab and footwork. Da Preem would be in the mix of top heavyweight contenders today and a good bet to win a belt.

The most overrated boxer was Roy Jones Jr. This terrific athlete was “great” for his time but when people began ranking him on a par with Sugar Ray Robinson (one well known authority even said he was better!), I had to draw the line. Roy’s athleticism and power dazzled but it covered up mediocre boxing skills and a glass jaw. In his prime these flaws could not be exposed by a middleweight and light heavy division that lacked depth. Roy’s innate gifts would have made him a stand out in any era but he was certainly no Sugar Ray Robinson.

ALAN SWYER- documentary filmmaker, writer, and producer of “El Boxeo”: The most underrated fighter in my estimation is Ricardo “Finito” Lopez. That he is not fully appreciated owes to two factors. First, he fought primarily as a strawweight, a division that’s often overlooked. Second, with the exception of two fights (against Alex Sanchez and Zolani Petolo), he did not box in New York, with the bulk of his matches fought in Mexico and Las Vegas. However, what more needs to be said about someone who retired undefeated as both an amateur and a pro, had 51 professional wins (38 by knockout), and tied Joe Louis and Floyd Mayweather for the most consecutive title bouts without a loss.

The most overrated boxer in my estimation is Saul Alvarez. Though clearly gifted, Canelo was anointed early on more for his red hair than for his talent. Promoted shrewdly by Golden Boy, fighting big names already on the downside of their career. Still, his fight against Alfredo Angulo featured a questionable stoppage, the scorecard for his bout against Erislandy Lara was controversial, and his effort against Floyd Mayweather was lackluster. Then came Alvarez-Golovkin, in which hype superseded the action in the ring.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS- voice of “Boxing Along the Beltway”: My most underrated boxer is Simon Brown. He accomplished a lot in his career and I think the knockout loss to Vincent Pettway may have hurt his legacy. Brown won three world titles and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history when he knocked out Terry Norris. I’ve always thought that Brown should be in the Hall of Fame.

My most overrated boxer actually is Mike Tyson. I give a lot of credit to Tyson for the excitement he brought to the sport. However, if you look objectively at his career, he was more successful with smaller heavyweights. When he went up against tall heavy’s like James “Bonecrusher” Smith and Lennox Lewis, he really did not perform well. Yes, he had a lot of issues outside the ring but he is not in my all-time greatest heavyweight list.

PETER WOOD – author, writer, and former fighter: The most underrated fighter is…Michael Spinks. Unfortunately, “The Spinks Jinx” is more remembered for his first-round KO loss to Mike Tyson and his unwarranted win over Larry Holmes. However, his ring achievements are too often overlooked. His ring record is almost perfect at 31-1…The Ring magazine named Spinks “the third greatest light heavyweight of all time” in 2002…He had a record of 14-1 (9 KO) in world title fights…He was 7-1 against former world titlists…He defeated Murray Sutherland (twice), Marvin Johnson, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Larry Holmes (twice).

The most overrated fighter is…Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He’s too slow-of-foot, too juiced-up, and too protected.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active full power lifters in the world and is currently competing on the New England circuit. A member of Ring 10, and Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

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boxing odds
South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

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Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

Miguel Iturrate

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Caparello
This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

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Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

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Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

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