Belfast boxer Steven Ward stepped into the boxing ring on Friday facing the biggest challenge of his career, at least in terms of weight. His opponent was Hafthor Bjornsson, the 2018 World's Strongest Man, who also had a guest role on Game of Thrones. 'The Mountain' and Ward faced off during the "heaviest boxing match in history."
According to RT.com, Bjornsson entered the ring at 344 pounds, nearly 100 pounds lighter than his normal weight for the past decade. His smaller size still gave him an advantage over Ward, who was 127 pounds lighter. However, the Icelandic athlete acknowledged that there was a difference in skill level, which would benefit him heading toward his September fight. "It’s one thing training in the gym but to be preparing for an actual fight and experience the traveling, the pre-fight stuff, having a referee there and understanding the rules of boxing, it’s all new," Bjornsson said before his fight.
View this post on Instagram
The fight actually took place on Friday in Dubai, but both men avoided spoiling the outcome prior to Saturday's live stream. Bjornsson then posted the entire event on his personal YouTube page. As an exhibition match, there were no winners or losers, but both men experienced some massive hits during the three-round fight. The referee then raised both of their arms in the air while declaring them winners.
Bjornsson spoke to reporters after the bout. He praised Ward and spoke glowingly about his experience. The former World's Strongest Man also talked about the amount of work that boxers have to put in on a regular basis in order to perform well in the ring.
"Steven is unbelievable. I doubt many people would want to step into a ring with someone my size," Bjornsson said. "Stevie has a big heart. To come here and do this exhibition with me means a lot. I needed that experience. Steven is the same height as my opponent in September, and this was great. I can’t wait to get home and keep training to get better. I have been training in this sport for six months and I have huge respect for anyone in boxing. I know how much hard work goes into this. I had to put in so much hard work, and this is just the beginning."
The fight, as it turns out, is just a warmup for The Mountain. Bjornsson has an upcoming battle against fellow strongman Eddie Hall, the man whose deadlift record he broke last year. The two heavy hitters will face off in September, and Bjornsson has the goal of knocking out his opponent.