On March 19, 2022, former World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Hafthor Björnsson defeated fellow former WSM winner Eddie Hall in the “Heaviest Boxing Match in History.” After six action-packed rounds at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Dubai, UAE, Björnsson was the unanimous victor.
All three judges scored in favor of Björnsson identically — 57-54 — with “The Mountain” winning all but the fight’s second round. Björnsson celebrated the victory on his Instagram page by thanking his followers for their support and sharing a link to a video on his YouTube channel that features highlights from the fight and behind-the-scenes footage:
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Both men fought admirably, but there was trash talk a plenty leading up to the bout. Both Hall and Thor traded online barbs, saying they’d knock the other out. Indeed both men did put one another on the canvas, but it was Thor who looked technically sharper. This is after both he and Hall had two years to shift their skillsets from strongman to boxing.
So, where did the former Britain Strongest Man and UK Strongest Man go wrong? What should he have done differently to overcome Björnsson and earn the unofficial title of best fighting strongman? Let’s break it down.
Eddie Hall vs. Hafthor Björnsson Fight Turning Point
In a matchup with this much power and raw athleticism, defensive tactics are arguably as important as landing a massive haymaker. Hall and Björnsson showed more competency inside the ring than many might’ve expected despite their inexperience. Both clearly sought knockout blows throughout the fight, despite exposing themselves to the danger of the other’s powerful fists. When it’s big swing after big swing, the fighter in a better position to protect themselves is likely to find the advantage. It’s no coincidence that it’s here where Hall fell short.
Björnsson scored two knockdowns during the fight, undoubtedly critical to his eventual victory. In both instances, Hall held his right hand by his side rather than up, protecting his chin. Whether he realized it at the moment or not is unclear (remember, boxing is utterly exhausting) but his stance left him exposed to Björnsson’s left-hand crosses that ultimately placed Hall on the mat twice. In a matchup of two strongman titans, the deciding factor seemingly came down to technique rather than strength. Who would have thought?
All that said, Hall thanked his supporters and fans in an Instagram post after the right, showing grace in defeat:
Hall and Björnsson’s Rivalry
These two strongmen initially had a boxing match scheduled for September 18, 2021. However, Hall suffered a biceps injury during a sparring session, forcing the match’s postponement until March 2022.
A competitive rivalry has existed between Hall and Björnsson since the 2017 WSM contest when Hall claimed the overall title. Björnsson finished as the runner-up following controversy over a missed rep call during the Viking Press event. That one rep was the difference that put Hall atop the final podium. When Hall retired from competitive strongman after that win, Björnsson comfortably claimed the WSM title the following year in 2018.
It’s fitting that these two men are known for their deadlifting prowess. Where they do otherwise possess impressive ledgers of accomplishments, they are the only two human beings ever to deadlift over at least 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds). Hall managed the feat and then-world record of 500 kilograms exactly at the 2016 World Deadlift Championships (WDC) in Leeds, England. That record lasted four years before Björnsson eclipsed Hall by one kilogram during the World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) “Feats of Strength” series in May 2020.
Of course, even that lift didn’t come without controversy. Björnsson performed the deadlift with one officiant — Magnus ver Magnusson. Many top strongmen, including Hall himself, publicly stated that they believed records broken outside of competitions shouldn’t be recognized.
Even still, Hall and Björnsson are the only two men ever to deadlift at least 500 kilograms. It speaks to the remarkable ability and power both possess — something they’ve now proven across multiple sports. What’s next for either man is up in the air, but the possibility of a Hall vs. Björnsson rematch may be in the future.
Featured image: @thorbjornsson on Instagram