It was exhibition in name but not in nature.
Steven Ward and Game of Thrones star Hafthor Bjornsson met over 3 x 3 minute rounds at the sold out Conrad Dubai, on Friday.
With Ward standing 6’2″ and weighing 98.6kg (217lbs), while Bjornsson stands 6’9″ and weighed 156.2kg (344lbs), giving Thor almost a 130lb weight advantage, it was assumed ‘the exhibition’ would be nothing more than a move around.
However, the former World Strongest Man wasn’t holding back and when he finally landed on Ward he sent the British cruiserweight title hopeful to the canvas.
It wasn’t that a shot that hurt Ward, although he did admit to being stunned in the fight, more a show of the sheer brute force packed by the giant.
In the second round Bjornsson, who looked sharper and more skillful than many expected, landed a left hand jab and followed up with an right hook that landed on Ward’s shoulder. Such was the force of the shot that ‘The Quietman’ went down, he rose to his feet and tasted his opponents again, but this time held firm despite shipping a head shot.
With the rules established and in the knowledge Bjornsson wasn’t holding back, Ward came out fighting in the final stanza.
The Jamie Moore trained fighter drew blood from his opponents nose, landed flush on a number of occasions and managed to back the big man up.
Once the final bell rang it was all things exhibition again and no victor was declared.
Speaking after ‘The Mountain’ was full of praise for the boxer: “Steven is unbelievable. What a heart he has. I doubt many people would want to step in a ring with a man who weighs 50% more than he does. For him to do this with me means a lot. I need this experience. Steven is the same height as my opponent (Eddie Hall) that I will fight in September. I can’t wait to get back in training and get better. I have been boxing training for six months and I have huge respect for the sport and everyone involved. I now know how much work you put in. This is just the beginning for me.”