A Late Professional start for Andreas Gustafsson

By Teddy Stenmark: Although Sweden has had their share of pretty decent professional heavyweights, the last few years hasn’t created too much interest for the fans to cheer about. In fact, we haven’t had a big guy worthy of mainstream media exposure since two-time European champ, Anders Eklund fought in the mid eighties. He created a bit of a buzz with his fights against the likes of Frank Bruno, Steffen Tangstad and Francesco Damiani.

Even though he (Eklund) had his flaws, he had enough power and skills to bring some attention and give Scandinavian fight fans a little bit of hope.. Our latest boxers in the heavyweight division, the likes of Michael Lindblad, Johan Thorbjörnsson and Aldo Colliander have been, at the most, only decent against modest opponents but nothing more.

The latter (Colliander) naturally very talented and gifted (probably the best one) but with a baggage of trouble making him almost impossible to match.
It’s no exaggeration to call Aldo rather difficult to deal with, he is to say the least, pretty unpredictable, to illustrate this I could share a story about him (he is now, for obvious reasons living and fighting out of England), at a weigh-in on a pretty big show in Sweden some time ago, Colliander took centre stage in front of all the reporters at hand, (and the promoter as well), telling everyone, “Look guys , I am not going to fight tonight, they are not paying me enough money and on top of that, I have a cut”. Everyone in the room was shocked over this and couldn’t believe what they had just heard. The incident made headlines in several newspapers the next day, and yes, Colliander was indeed injured, and unable to fight.

Well this piece wasn’t going to be about the charming Colliander (whom I like by the way, he is a nice guy, but just like so many other boxers out there, hard to please) but the lack of Swedish heavyweight prospects. There aren’t any at the moment, but a certain 28 year old Olympic alternate (he failed to make the 2004 games) by the name of Andreas Gustafsson, could change that, he will make his professional debut at a mixed martial arts-show called K1 Scandinavia “Rumble of the kings” on the 27th of February in Norrkoping (conveniently his own hometown). The event holds matches in K1, MMA and professional boxing.

Gustafsson, who hasn’t boxed since failing to make the Olympics in 2004 possesses loads of talent, and has captured the Swedish senior national title no less than five times and even picked home a European bronze medal back in 2000. Andreas is said to have turned down a million (in Swedish kroner) offer from Norwegian promoter, Steffen Tangstad at one point when his amateur career was at its peak. It’s very difficult to say if Andreas still has the same quality after all these years but it’s undoubtedly a very, very interesting start of a professional career.

Gustafsson first took attention in 1996 when he won the Swedish Youth title at welterweight, he followed that up with a junior championship at junior middle in 1997, and senior title at that weight in 1998. From 2000 to 2004 he won the heavyweight crown and was our national anchor. He also racked up some international experience early on as he boxed for Sweden in the middleweight category at the World Junior championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1998, and the European juniors in Birmingham 1997. He did, as I mentioned earlier pick home that medal in The Europeans (seniors) in Tampere, Finland in 2000 as top achievement, did also participate at the same event in 2004 as well as the World Championships in Houston, Texas 1999 and in Belfast, Ireland 2001.

Andreas is well equipped to take on to the paid ranks but I would have loved for him to cross over in 2004, then he would have been smoking hot, but better late than never. What’s left now remains to be seen.

February 4, 2009

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