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The 10 Most Underrated Boxers of the 1980s

10 men who need more recognition
Publish Date: 10/05/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

10) Carlos De Leon

De Leon is an often forgotten champion in a mostly overlooked division. De Leon first won a world title when he faced WBC world champion Marvin Camel, on November 25, 1980, on the undercard of Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Durán’s famous No Mas fight in New Orleans. De León outpointed Camel over 15 rounds. De León lost his title in a shocking upset to S. T. Gordon by a knockout in round 2 in Cleveland in 1982. De Leon rebounded and won a comeback fight against former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks by a knockout in round six in 1983. De Leon regained his title by beating Gordon in a rematch. De León dropped Gordon once in the first round and once in the twelfth, en route to a unanimous decision win in a history-making bout: De León had become the first boxer to win the world cruiserweight title twice. De Leon would go on to become a four-time cruiserweight world champion.

Video: Carlos De Leon-Leon Spinks highlights

Carlos De Leon-Leon Spinks highlights

9) Ruben Castillo

Castillo came up short in four title fights against Salvador Sánchez, Alexis Argüello, and Julio César Chávez, as well as Juan Laporte. Castillo controlled most of the fight in his first title shot against Arguello before the Legendary “Thin Man” took him out in the eleventh round. He lost a very close decision to Salvador Sanchez and lost to Juan LaPorte in another close fight. Howard Cosell loved Castillo, a highly-skilled boxer and didn’t mind getting down in the trenches and going to war.

Video: Salvador Sanchez vs Rubén Castillo

Salvador Sanchez vs Rubén Castillo

8) Donny Lalonde

I think it’s a shame that Lalonde is not remembered better. He indeed was a solid fighter. His most famous fight was against Sugar Ray Leonard, where he dropped Leonard early in the fight and was ahead on points until the fateful ninth round, where Leonard caught Lalonde and stopped him. Lalonde won the title over the tough Leslie Stewart and won over Mustapha Hamsho. I still believe if Leonard had fought Lalonde at Lalonde’s natural weight, which was light heavyweight, Lalonde would have beaten Leonard. Getting down under the light heavyweight limit dramatically drained Lalonde and significantly affected the fight’s outcome.

Video: Sugar Ray Leonard vs Donny Lalonde - Highlights (For All The GOLD)

Sugar Ray Leonard vs Donny Lalonde – Highlights (For All The GOLD)


7) Livingstone Bramble

Bramble came into national prominence in 1984 when he upset Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Bramble went on to beat Mancini in the rematch and defended his title, stopping Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley in the 13th round. He lost his belt in his second defense and never really got back to the pinnacle he obtained in 1984 and 1985 again. When you look at his record, you see a ton of losses that occurred mainly at the end of his career. For anybody that saw Bramble in his prime, there is no doubt that he was a great boxer.

Video: Livingstone Bramble - Fearless Warrior

Livingstone Bramble – Fearless Warrior


6) Cornelius Boza-Edwards

Edwards is probably best known for his two life and death struggles with the great Bobby Chacon, but Edwards should be known for much more than that. When you talk about blood and guts warriors in the 1980’s, Boza has to be towards the top of that list. His losses were to legends such as  Alexis Argüello by knockout in eight, Héctor Camacho by decision in twelve, Rocky Lockridge by decision in ten, and José Luis Ramírez by dish in five. Edwards was the true definition of a fighter.

Video: Cornelius Boza-Edwards - Highlight Reel

Cornelius Boza-Edwards – Highlight Reel


5) Edwin Rosario

Rosario fought the best during his career, and he won some, and he lost some, but if you were a fan, you always got your money’s worth. He won the lightweight championship of the world three times, as the WBC lightweight champion (1983–84) and the WBA champion (1986–87 and 1989–90). Rosario won a 4th world championship after moving up to the junior welterweight division by claiming the WBA title, holding that crown from 1991 to 1992. He also came very close to handing Hector Camacho his first loss in 1986 when he lost a controversial decision at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Edwin Rosario - Blood, Sweat and Tears (Highlights & Knockouts)

Edwin Rosario – Blood, Sweat and Tears (Highlights & Knockouts)

4) Dwight Braxton

Braxton, later known as Dwight Muhammad Qawi, came out of the Rahway State Prison Boxing Program in 1978. He went back to Rahway State Prison and gave Rahway inmate James Scott a beating which finished Scott’s career. He beat World Champion Matthew Saad Muhammad in 1981 and then beat Saad even more convincingly in a sixth-round knockout at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. He attempted to unify the title against Michael Spinks in 1983 but lost a unanimous decision and, after that fight, moved up. He was never the same after a 1986 war with a young and hungry Evander Holyfield at the Omni in Atlanta, where he relinquished his cruiserweight title.

Video: Dwight Muhammad Qawi - The Camden Buzzsaw (Highlights / Tribute in HD)

Dwight Muhammad Qawi – The Camden Buzzsaw (Highlights / Tribute in HD)

3) Juan Laporte

Laporte fought them all, and he beat his fair share. If you want to know how great he was, consider that he fought Julio Cesar Chavez in his prime at maybe his best weight, and many people thought he won. Laporte had it all, and when he was on, he could beat anybody.

Video: Juan LaPorte - Puerto Rico Power

Juan LaPorte – Puerto Rico Power

2) Hector Camacho

While most consider Camacho significant, many people forget exactly how good he was during the 1980s. Few who have ever done it were as fast as the “Macho Man,” and people forget that he wasn’t just fast at junior lightweight and lightweight; he could also crack pretty good with both hands.

Video: The Ultimate Hector Macho Camacho Tribute

The Ultimate Hector Macho Camacho Tribute

1) Mike McCallum

Known as simply the “Body Snatcher,” McCallum was a three-weight world champion, having held the WBA super welterweight title from 1984 to 1988, the WBA middleweight title from 1989 to 1991, and the WBC light heavyweight title from 1994 to 1995. McCallum was a supreme technician with great all-around ability, giving guys like James Toney all he could ask for. McCallum never for fights against the likes of Duran, Leonard, Hagler, or Hearns, and no, they didn’t duck him.

Video: Mike McCallum - The Body Snatcher

Mike McCallum – The Body Snatcher

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