Heavyweight boxing has produced some of the sports biggest names, and characters across all of its weight divisions. Yet there will always be something about seeing two massive guys try and knock each others head off that makes heavyweight boxing so enthralling. It really can be a one punch chances everything type sport when the big guys start going at it. The popularity has diminished in recent years with a lack of top level opponents. Hopefully we will now see it making a come back, but for now we must look to yesteryear for solace. This got me thinking about who the most underrated heavyweight boxers of all time are? We have all been big fans of Ali, Frazier and Lewis, but who doesn’t get the same praise despite fantastic ability and careers?
First one I always think of is Sonny Liston. Known mainly as the man who lost twice to Ali, yet both where in questionable circumstances. It would have always been good to see a motivated and trained Liston go up against Ali in his prime. Liston had supreme power, and one of the best ram rod like jabs the world of boxing had seen before or since. He only lost 4 fights in total, and won 39 of 50 by KO. He fought for his first world title against Floyd Patterson. Many of the worlds top boxers and journalists predicted a 15 round decision for the quicker and more versatile Patterson. The only man to predict a Liston win funnily enough was a young up and coming pretender by the name of Cassius Clay, who said Liston would win by KO within five rounds. Liston won by knockout two minutes into round one.
Next on the list is the man Liston beat in his title fight, Floyd Patterson. Although probably not underrated by the boxing press and hardcore fans, not many will know his name, or consider him as talented as the other greats I mentioned earlier. However he remains the youngest Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion of all time, and his age at winning one world title is only surpassed by Mike Tyson. Patterson also won Olympic gold for his country, and like Tyson was trained by iconic fight man Cus D’amato. Due to his high guard and fluid head movement he is considered by many to be the man who invented the Peek-a-boo style stance, which would later be passed on by Cus, and taken to another level by Tyson. Patterson beat Archie Moore to win the heavyweight title and become at the time the youngest ever, and also the first heavyweight to win Olympic gold and a world heavyweight title. Influential in a way to almost anyone who has since donned a pair of boxing gloves.
There are many more we could name, and hopefully will in further articles, but these are just two big names that always stand out to me, and seem to only get mentioned because either of the men who beat them, or the men who trained them. Liston for his fights with Ali, and Patterson for being a forerunner for D’amato and Tyson coming later.