Boxing’s 10 Most Underrated Stars

Whether it has to do with poor promotion or just plain bad luck, some fighters never get their just due.

While some boxers garner high praise for minimal accomplishments, others languish in the shadows no matter what they do.

Here’s a list of ten fighters who deserve more credit than they get:

Orlando Salido (Featherweight)

The blue collar Mexican world titlist was no blue-chip prospect or well-groomed Olympic star. Salido came up the hard way, learning the tricks of the trade in hardcore Mexican boxing gyms. Although he boasts a modest 4-4 record against former or past world champions, the native of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora has hit his stride recently with a solid performance against Yuriorkis Gamboa and an upset win over Juan Manuel Lopez.

Lucian Bute (Super Middleweight)

The one glaring omission in an otherwise stellar Super Six super middleweight tournament, Bute has been fighting the “best of the rest” for the last couple of years. Despite making more than a few pound-for- pound lists and trying to sign bouts with fighters like Mikkel Kessler and Kelly Pavlik, the Canada-based Romanian IBF world champ has unfairly taken some major criticism from critics.

Humberto Soto (Junior Welterweight)

The three-division world titlist from Mexico has been fighting since he was seventeen years old and has been in the ring with a nice assortment of solid, top shelf fighters. However, lost amid names like Juan Manuel Marquez, Israel Vazquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Erik Morales, Soto has been in the shadows for much of his career and given much less attention than he deserves.

Joseph Agbeko (Bantamweight)

Ghana’s King Kong Agbeko was an unknown entity when he shocked the world with a unanimous decision win over Vic Darchinyan in 2009. Since then, the tough bantamweight has shown an ability to go to war as well as put on a boxing clinic when need be. Most recently, he dropped a controversial majority decision to the very well-regarded Abner Mares.

Miguel Vazquez (Lightweight)

The 24-year-old IBF lightweight champ from Guadalajara is the rarest of all fighters– a slick, mobile, and cerebral Mexican boxer. More stylist than fighter, Vazquez is not an easy sell to Latino fight fans, but his success in the ring can’t be questioned. Vazquez hold wins over Breidis Prescott, Ji Hoon Kim, and Leonardo Zappavigna.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Featherweight)

Chihuahua, Mexico’s Ponce de Leon has been a mainstay at the elite level for the last six years. Along the way, the heavy-handed brawler has captured a world title at junior featherweight and is currently regarded as a top challenger at featherweight. Although crude and lacking in the finer aspects of the sport, Ponce de Leon is a tough battler and a real challenge for anyone entering the ring with him.

Kelly Pavlik (Super Middleweight)

Even while dealing with personal demons and possible career-threatening injuries, Pavlik has shown himself to be a fighter still able to compete at the highest of levels. In 2010, the Youngstown, Ohio native even gave Sergio Martinez a real battle in a losing effort amid an assortment of personal and physical problems. At his worst, Pavlik is still a fighter with heavy hands and a real fighter’s heart.

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight)

Thailand’s Wonjongkam has been a fixture at the world class, elite level since 2001 and has amassed a 24-1-1 record in 26 world title fights. Most recently, Wonjongkam scored a unanimous decision victory over well-regarded Mexican former world titlist, Edgar Sosa.

Ulises Solis (Junior Flyweight)

The two-time junior flyweight titlist has been one of the most successful Mexican fighters over the last seven years. However, the veteran from Guadalajara with a 10-2-2 record in world title fights rarely gets the attention or credit he deserves as one of the sport’s very best.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (Middleweight)

It’s easy and fun to pick on Jr. and the second generation fighter most definitely does not deserve to be called a world champion at this stage of his career. However, he’s also not the bumbling fool many make him out to be. The kid has got legitimately heavy hands and he shows a fighter’s instinct when things get hot and heavy in the ring. Chavez desperately needs a bump up in competition, but as a 25-year-old novice in training, he’s not all that bad.

Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. He is the editor in chief of The Boxing Tribune, the only major boxing news site that refuses to accept promoter or network advertising. He is also a contributor to Fox Sports. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.


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