Re: ken norton overated or underated?
I think a lot of Ken's rating is based on the presumption that he would have been the challenger most likely to eventually dethrone Ali for the first time, if Muhammad had never gone into exile. Hence, there's an expectation that he would have actually won the title in the ring.
Always in top condition, Kenny was something of a head case (much like Jerry Quarry). Norton won matches he should have lost, and lost matches he should have won. For his era, he was Max Schmeling to Ali's Joe Louis, the one who proved that defeating Ali did not require superhuman powers. He also rebounded from devastating setbacks to Garcia, Ali, Foreman, Holmes, Shavers, and finally, followed his draw against LeDoux by knocking Tex Cobb from the unbeaten ranks before Cooney retired him.
He parlayed his physical appearance into a mainstream recognition and success which eludes modern boxers (with the exeption of Holyfield). No non-champion in boxing has approached his level of popularity since. (Everybody knew Norton as Mandingo, long before he was ever awarded the WBC HW Title.)
I don't know that he's a worthy hall of famer, but he deserves to be well remembered for his career, just as contemporaries Lyle and Shavers are.