There was a giant show in town as Thor Bjornsson took to the ring in Dubai on Friday to face 2010 Commonwealth heavyweight champion Simon Vallily at the Conrad Hotel in the shadow if the World Trade Center.
The Icelandic man-mountain and 2018 World’s Strongest Man tipped the scales 80lbs heavier than his opponent as he makes the move from lugging trucks and timber to the boxing ring — something he is taking very seriously, despite the massive challenges he is facing.
“I have given my life over to boxing,” Bjornsson said after his four-round workout with Vallily, the highlight of an eight-fight card in Dubai. “I am training three times a day. I have huge respect for this sport and it is just mind-blowing how hard this sport is.”
Bjornsson, who played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in hit HBO TV show ‘Game of Thrones’, is set to face rival and fellow strongman Eddie Hall of England in Nevada in September in what is billed as ‘The Heaviest Boxing Match in History’ with the two giants and public enemies ready to sort out their differences in the ring.
Although billed as an exhibition, there was no love lost between Bjornsson and Vallily on Friday as they had a few verbal exchanges after the Icelander clearly hurt the Yorkshireman with a crack to the right cheek.
Bjornsson, 6ft 9ins, had Vallily on the canvas in the first round, but the referee judged it to be a slip. Vallily came roaring back and had Bjornsson on the deck in the third after a flush crack to the face.
They were all friends again after the final bell rang, but Bjornsson — never too steady on his feet carrying a colossal 152kg (335lbs) — knows he will need to keep up his rigorous regime ahead of the big fight in September against Hall. Bjornsson had one final message for Hall: “Eddie, Im coming to knock you out.”
Earlier on the card, Stephane Fondjo of Cameroon proved he is one to watch for the future as he completely outclassed Jeyhun Bashirzade of Azerbaijan with a second-round TKO in their super-middleweight clash.
“I have won a few titles in my time, but this is another big win and a big step,” Fondjo told Gulf News. “I have won four fights from four now in my pro career, I am confident I will become a world champion soon. Baby steps, working hard and hitting the gym every day is my plan. I am working for me, working for my life and working for my family and I will be world champion soon, for sure.”
Dubai-based Dutchman Anthony De Bruijn was also impressive as he claimed the vacant UBO intercontinental lightweight title as he scored a unanimous decision over Emmanuel Noi Mensah from Ghana.