It’s just a subject of several hours until Steven ‘The Silent Man’ Ward actions into the ring with one particular of the world’s strongest males a 6ft-9inch, 344-pound powerhouse dependable for feats these types of as shattering a 1,000-yr-old toughness history by carrying a 32-foot, 1,433lb log for five measures, deadlifting 501kg at his health club in Iceland and hurling a 56-pound kettlebell 19 feet.
The task is a complicated one particular. There will be a 127lb pounds change when Ward comes face-to-deal with with his following opponent, as properly as a important gulf in top but when I question him to make a prediction for the struggle, the comfortable cruiserweight laughs. “Anyone has a sport approach till they get punched in the face,” he tells SPORTbible. “What takes place when I hit him in the experience? He could go awol and begins wrecking the location!”
Hafthor Bjornsson, recognized by a lot of as ‘The Mountain’ from Game of Thrones, will make his eagerly-predicted boxing debut in Dubai on January 16 when he faces Ward in 3, three-moment rounds. The Icelandic strongman has stepped up his preparations in advance of an eagerly-predicted bout against bitter rival Eddie Corridor later on this calendar year and he is made some significant development.
Due to the fact the struggle was officially introduced in May well last year, Bjornsson has reportedly dropped a outstanding 110lb and now, to his credit score, the 32-yr-outdated will test himself towards previous WBO European gentle-heavyweight champion Steven Ward an professional fighter who holds a specialist file of 13-1-, with noteworthy victories in opposition to Liam Conroy, Josip Perkovic and Steve Collins Jr on his file.
Ward, who place on a dominant exhibit in his last fight – a highly-predicted cruiserweight debut in opposition to Jone Volau in September – was very first released to Bjornsson in Belfast when he was accomplishing some filming and at any time since, the pair have saved in touch even though he did not actually know who he was at initial.
“When they 1st told me about conference him [Bjornsson] in Belfast, when this all started, they stated that I will go down and meet ‘The Mountain’. My reply was ‘who the hell is The Mountain?’ They explained ‘Thor’ and I just laughed to be straightforward. I would in no way read of him. I you should not look at Activity of Thrones but he was there and which is the place it all started out.”
The 30-calendar year-outdated, who trains out of Belfast and Manchester at VIP Health club, was associated in Freddie Flintoff’s journey in qualified boxing a several several years back and sparred the former England cricketer in the construct-up to his debut combat from Richard Dawson at the Manchester Arena.
He admits he believed it was heading to be a identical problem with Bjornsson but issues have “escalated” because.
“I just assumed I was heading to be likely in excess of to do some sparring potentially, assist him discover the ropes and give him some encounter – attempting to assistance him wherever I could. But factors have just escalated from there.” Wards tells us.
“The huge guy would seem to be having it very major and he required an chance to see what it really is like on the evening – to have people butterflies in the belly whilst getting that experience of heading to the ring.
“You see all these Youtuber’s and stuff undertaking all these fights but I locate this diverse. He is an elite athlete – he’s the bloody World’s Strongest Gentleman. He is significant. It is not like a YouTuber. He’s a professional athlete in his possess suitable and his sport.
“So I believed why not. It can be an opportunity for me to go up versus just one of the world’s strongest men and it’s great for me to support him out. I was content plenty of with the offer. Really, I’m wondering twice about it now…only joking!”
Ward is definitely mindful of his opponent’s capacity, regardless of remaining sceptical at initial. He has witnessed some actual guarantee from Bjornsson in a range of teaching sessions and expects a tricky challenge when they go toe-to-toe on Friday night.
In fact, the cruiserweight fighter has presented some fascinating perception into Hafthor’s preparations in the latest months.
“Initially I believed he’d be dead slow you see these World’s Strongest Gentlemen and stuff they’re just that big that they usually are not really created for the boxing activity so I anticipated him to be a plodder close to the ring,” claims Ward. “But then I witnessed him accomplishing some shadow boxing and pads and he really moves perfectly for the sizing of him. I messaged him saying “you shift perfectly for a huge man.”
“I considered his toes was heading to be like led…trapped to the floor. But no.
“He’s taking it serious y’know. He was telling me about fighters who he’s viewed and their different models – and how a greater fighter beats a more compact one particular. He’s messaged me just before wanting to know if I could propose a superior venue for a major audience to assist him acquire. The major man is eager to understand so truthful perform to him.
“And apparently he utilized to participate in specialist basketball as well. So yeah, he moves properly for a major lad!”
‘The Mountain’ weighed in at 454 lbs throughout his planet file deadlift past yr but the 32-calendar year-aged has misplaced over 100lb because – which is nonetheless much heavier than Ward, who weighed 198lbs in his most new cruiserweight fight versus Jone Volau in September.
The Belfast-born fighter, however, insists he is not anxious about the excess weight change.
“I’m not concerned about it, but it’s clearly a contributing factor – the male is enormous.” Ward tells SPORTbible.
“He’s a large lad…so you can bloody know about it (when he punches you). Even if I put my hands up and he hits me, he is that robust you’d imagine he’ll do some harm. But there is a huge variance between the procedure of boxing and throwing a punch – just because your arms are massive won’t always suggest you have a really hard punch. You see these fighters that are really wirey and knock every person out. It can be all about the body weight transference.
“A person thing I do surprise is how massive the ring will be. Obviously there is certainly different dimension rings and the issue with him is he’s a significant lad so will they get a smaller sized ring? That would limit me becoming capable to transfer possibly. It should really be exciting!”
Ward says he has approached the combat “like any other”, adhering to a rigorous regime in the establish-up to the Dubai-based party. He has trained 2 times a working day five days a 7 days and goes for a “huge run” the moment a 7 days.
That getting explained, he states it’s going to be “great craic” anyway and even fantasised about a probable Rocky-type moment.
“I am striving to not believe about it way too a lot. I’m just energized to get in there. It will be a bit of a chortle in any case will not it. It will be good craic.” claims Ward.
“He’ll be in there trying to punch my head off and I wonder what it will be like… whether it will be like an old tale like a sleeping large. It could all be likely okay until I strike him with a clear shot and I then wake that sleeping giant. And then he goes mad, picking me up like when Hulk Hogan picked up Rocky in the movie.
“Who is aware of…it may change into one particular of people comedy displays!”