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31 OCTOBER 2014

 

Alvarez promised a lot but never fulfilled his potential!


Mogens Palle: HoganPhotos.com
Mogens Palle: HoganPhotos.com

By Teddy Stenmark: Scandinavia seem to have an endless list of boxers who did not bloom out to their full potential and a few that promised a lot but crashed along the way against opposition they normally should not have lost against.

A perfect example of this is former European super-middleweight challenger, Fredrik “Tyson” Alwarez. For those of us that followed his early fights for Team Palle in the mid nineties, it almost felt guaranteed he was destined for a great career with a world title down the road.

Fredrik was knocking everyone out in brutal fashion, and was 21-0, 16 KO:s when he registered his first loss against American journeyman Melvin Wynn in 1997 (on points).

Alvarez who turned pro in 1995 had gone undefeated for two straight years boxing frequently on Mogens Palle’s shows, always pleasing his fans with knockouts and a rare ferocious, aggressive style that hadn’t been seen coming from Sweden since the 1960’s.

It was therefore a bit shocking when Wynn just came along and boxed his way to a points victory over Fredrik. Alvarez had problems with slick elusive fighters and the American was just that. Although Fredrik came back and won five fights in a row after that loss it seems like his loyal followers (fans) didn’t have quite the same confidence in the fighter dubbed as “ White Tyson” in the amateurs, after that defeat.

The first real career wrecking confidence- breaker for Alvarez came in 1998 though when Palle lured tricky spoiler, Thulane “Sugarboy” Malinga to Denmark and Copenhagen for a 12 rounder for the not very prestigious WBF-title that Alvarez had won easily on a second round knockout over Brazilian, Luciano Torres.

Malinga was a clever boxer who wasn’t going to be fooled into a brawl with the muscular, hard hitting, Swede, and used his excellent jab all night and Alvarez had to “eat it like candy. “ I took too many punches “ admitted Alvarez afterwards, who was stopped ( rescued really ) by referee, Steve Smoger in the 11th round ( TKO).

Malinga was 41 years old at that time but still a capable fighter. It was in all senses a firm “Wake-up-call” for Alvarez that in the fight with Malinga, he got a taste of what was needed to perform at a higher level against an opponent not impressed by his punching power.

He took the defeat well but it was in a way back to the drawing board. Palle didn’t give up on his quest to land the popular Swede a big title fight so he carefully picked suitable opponents for him again to rebuild his confidence. After 10 consecutive wins against pretty decent opposition ( but not dangerous and difficult ones like Malinga), Alvarez came in position to challenge for the European title at super middle against Russian Andrej Shkalikov in September of 2000 in Chateauroux, France.

The champion started the fight carefully against the brawling Swede but once he figured him out, he took over. Shkalikov 32 years old at the time had sense enough not to get into a war with Alvarez and used his distinctive jab with success and followed up with nice combinations. Eventually this took it’s toll on the challenger.

After seven rounds all three judges had the champion ahead on the scorecards. The end came in the eighth round when the Russian caught Fredrik with a one-two combination that sent him to the canvas. Alvarez rose bravely to his feet but his corner had seen enough and threw in the towel.

Alvarez had two more fights after that European title challenge, before stepping into undoubtedly the most crucial fight of his career, in 2001, It was against Danish based Kenyan, Evans “The African Warrior” Ashira, a fight that ironically was made at only one day’s notice, (when Alvarez Swedish colleague Armand Krajnc was unavailable due to a contractual dispute with his employer).

Fredrik was in good shape and took the fight (which was at middleweight) believing it was a good opportunity (The lightly regarded IBA World title was at stake). Fredrik might have nicked the opener but lost every round after that (Ashira fought brilliantly), and after a painful session ( probably Alvarez worst beating ever) it all came to an end for Alvarez in the 11th when the Kenyan smashed in a right hand, followed up, and got rid of the exhausted Swede who collapsed in the neutral corner.

As a spectator one was really worried for Alvarez health, it was just such a cruel beating and he was braver than what really was good for him. He was taken to the nearby hospital for observation but was later discharged and cleared medically.

However the defeat seemed to be Fredrik’s toughest and would he ever be the same? The answer to that was, no he wasn’t, not by a long shot. Yes he did have three more fights, two wins and a surprising points loss (eight rounds) at the hands of American Kevin Butts, but he was never the same. The last fight was a bit sad actually, all the fire and vitality was long gone. He didn’t glow like in the early fights. He realised it was over and announced his retirement.

Interestingly enough Fredrik’s kid brother, slightly heavier Giovanni Alvarez (light heavyweight / Cruiser), a very talented amateur who won the Swedish senior nationals at just 17 and captured bronze at the World juniors in Argentina 1998, also had a somewhat “disappointing” ( because he promised a lot) career in the pro’s, winning his first 15 fights before running into tough Latvian, Elvis Michailenko in 2004, losing on points (10 rounds).

He has since lost two straight fights by knockout (Lolenga Mock KO3 and Josip Jalusic KO3). Just a baby at 28, we can’t rule out that he tries again, but I kind of doubt it, that loss against Jalusic after a long absence was sort of the final nail in the coffin! Another big talent we had big hopes for down the drain.

August 14, 2008


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