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January 08, 2019

A LOOK BACK AT THE CAREER OF SWEDEN'S FREDRIK ALVAREZ
Courtesy of the WBF

Super middleweight Fredrik Alvarez was born in Koping, Sweden in April of 1975. He had Italian ancestry, and along with his younger brother Giovanni, he was raised in Borlanga and trained by father Constantino through over one hundred amateur bouts. Boxing on the unpaid circuit in both Sweden and Italy, he won the Italian amateur championships at middleweight at the age of eighteen in 1993, and decided to turn professional in 1995, still only nineteen years old and with a nickname suitable for his fighting-style (“Tyson").

Due to the fact that professional boxing was banned by Swedish law in 1995, Alvarez signed with Danish Hall-of-Fame promoter Mogens Palle, and made his debut on March 17, 1995 at K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen, stopping Englishman Mark Hale (5-11-1) in the first round.

With the backing of a big Scandinavian TV deal, Palle kept Alvarez extremely busy. In 1995 he boxed seven times, from March to December, and the following year, he entered the ring for no less than eleven fights, bringing his record to 18-0 (13) before the start of 1997.

While his opposition wasn't exactly frightening during this period, Alvarez did face some decent boxers such as undefeated Dutchman Jack Zieleman (6-0), experienced Venezuelan Armando Rodriguez (26-8-1) and tricky American Harold Roberts (5-1). He was presented with many different styles, and, besides fourteen outings in Denmark, he also gained important experience from fighting twice in the United Kingdom, once in Austria and once in his second home-country, as
part of the undercard for Vincienco Nardiello vs. Robin Reid in Milan in the fall of 1996.

1997 started well for Alvarez, with knockout victories over American imports Jason Christopher (10-3), Quinton Osgood (5-1) and Karl Willis (22-6-1). At 21-0 and still only twenty-two years old, he was considered a major prospect for the years to come. Palle had title fights in mind for the young Italian-Swede, but he, and certainly Alvarez, were brought back down to earth in June of 1997 when American trialhorse Melvin Wynn (16-27-1) upset the script and won on points over eight rounds to inflict the first loss on Alvarez. After having everything mostly his own way in the ring, an opponent decided to take advantage of Alvarez having an off-night. Wynn had proven capable when the stars aligned, beating another undefeated Scandinavian in Leif Keiski from Norway, but no one expected him to do the same to Alvarez. 

The shock loss to Wynn probably delayed the bigger fights a bit for Alvarez, but Palle still had great confidence in him. It was not the first time he had seen one of his boxers underestimate an opponent, enter the ring uninspired, or lose a fight due to poor preparations.

After a break over the 1997 summer, a re-focused Alvarez returned to the ring with comprehensive, albeit low-profile, victories in September and October. 

On November 14, 1997, back at the venue where he started his pro career, K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen, Alvarez faced Luciano Torres (45-4) from Brazil for the vacant WBF super middleweight title.

Torres, by far the best opponent of Alvarez career at that point, had held the title between 1993 and 1995, making seven successful defenses before relinquishing it without losing it in the ring. He traveled to Denmark highly motivated to win back his crown. But, after a tough training camp in Italy, Fredrik “Tyson” Alvarez was on a mission to firmly redeem himself. He would not be denied that night, and outright pulverized Torres in two one-sided rounds.

Alvarez kept busy with two non-title victories over Lonnie Knowles (16-3) and Frank Williams (7-1-1) in the first half of 1998, before losing to extremely accomplished South African Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga (42-11) on June 6th. Malinga, who had lost the WBC world title to England's Richie Woodhall only a few months earlier, was on top of his game that evening in Copenhagen, and stopped a bewildered Alvarez in the eleventh round.

Palle didn't give up on Alvarez, but probably realized that for all his qualities, such as punching power and relentless pressure, the Swede still had plenty to learn to be victorious when fighting against certain styles. Over the next two years he matched Alvarez wisely, and ten victories later, against decent but carefully chosen
foes, his record stood at 36-2. 

But a fight in France on September 16, 2000 against Andrey Shkalikov (49-5-1) for the European crown might very well have been the beginning to the end. Alvarez was completely outclassed by the tough Russian, and his corner decided to throw in the towel in round
eight. Retirement seemed like a very realistic option, but six months later he returned to the ring, fighting a few kilos below the super middleweight limit. It was decided that an attack on the middleweight division was the way forward, but a so-so performance, and
unanimous decision victory against George Klinesmith (8-1-1) didn't exactly have people shouting from the rooftops.

Carl Cockerham (10-6-2) was blown out in the opening round in his next outing, before a crack at Evans Ashira (19-0) ended in another disaster, and brutal stoppage defeat in eleven rounds in June of 2001. Ashira was initially supposed to fight Alvarez's compatriot Armand Krajnc, the former WBO champion, but when Krajnc was forced to pull out, Alvarez, to his credit, accepted to step in and face the 1996 Kenyan Olympian.

At this point it was basically over for Alvarez. He did fight three more times, winning twice before losing a decision after six rounds to a man he had no business losing to, Yameen Muhammad (5-1-1) in October of 2002. His final record was 40-5 (26).

Alvarez went through and overcame drug addiction in retirement, and faced tragedy when brother Giovanni, who also boxed professionally between 2000 and 2007, died at age thirty-six in 2016. At the time where Giovanni passed away, the Alvarez brothers, along with other family members, ran a hotel just outside of San Marco Argentano in Italy. Fredrik still runs the hotel, now with his wife Tea, whom he married in 2018, by his side. 



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