As expected, English heavyweight David Haye has officially retired from boxing — on his 31st birthday — with the former WBA titleholder insisting there is no point or need for him to continue in the sport.
The official announcement was delivered Thursday at his gym in south London and ended months of debate over whether Haye (25-2, 23 knockouts ) would actually stick to his long-term pledge to get out of boxing when he hit 31.
Well, he has done just that, and in the process rubbished claims by Bernd Boente, manager of the all-conquering Klitschko brothers, that talks are ongoing regarding a possible meeting between Haye and WBC champion Vitali Klitschko early next year.
Yes, the German promoter did speak to Haye’s manager and trainer, Adam Booth. But the discussions never went beyond first base because Klitschko is not prepared to make it worth Haye’s while. A millionaire several times over, the cruiserweight-turned-heavyweight from Bermondsey, London, is financially secure for life and has no intention of accepting a derogatory purse to keep the Klitschko name in the spotlight.
“I love boxing but sooner or later you have to call it a day. Too many fighters over the years have gone on way too long, “ said Haye, who lost his WBA heavyweight crown to RING champion Wladimir Klitschko back in July. “Now is a great time. I feel healthy, I feel in my prime. There’s no damage. So why not?
“Believe me, I’d love nothing better than to knock Vitali Klitschko out. Adam has had to deal with Bernd to tie up all the finances from the fight with Wladimir and, obviously, he talked about the possibility of me fighting Vitali. From what Adam‘s told me, though, they believe I’m just another challenger out there. If that’s how they see me, then good luck to them. Let them carry on fighting the guys they’re used to fighting.
“I know what I’m about. I know the draw I am and I know what I bring to the table. I understand they are businessmen but I no longer have to be a part of all that.
“There is always one more pay day for any fighter. I’m sure they’d be another one for Mike Tyson if he wanted it. But myself and Adam have been pretty shrewd in the way we‘ve done our business and constructed my career from day one, to the point I don‘t have to do anything. I don’t have to fight. In fact, I haven’t had to fight for the last three or four years.
“I didn’t have to have a heavyweight career after my cruiserweight days. Financially, I was already okay. But to be heavyweight champion of the world was always my target. I‘d always told my mum that‘s what I‘d be and it just has this special ring to it. And I WAS the heavyweight champion of the world and nobody can ever take that way from me.”
Haye first made his mark on the boxing world when he unified the cruiserweight division in March 2008, defeating Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli to become the WBA, WBC and WBO holder. He then moved up to heavyweight and in November 2009 defied the odds to take the WBA belt from 7-foot Russian Nikolav Valuev.
But after two successful, albeit low-key defenses, Haye found the challenge of dethroning Wladimir Klitschko this summer a step too far as he lost for only the second time in his career. On the wrong end a one-sided unanimous points decision in Hamburg, he later did himself no favors with boxing fans by claiming a broken toe had been behind what most deemed a desperately disappointing display.
That might well prove to be Haye’s lasting legacy in the sport. But Booth, the mastermind behind the Haymaker’s rise to the very top, insists he could not care less.
“I have my memories and I am happy with them and I can sleep at night,“ said Haye‘s long-time friend and business partner. “For me, there are two fights I’ll always remember the most. There‘s the one with Jean Marc Mormeck (cruiserweight) because that was David’s first world championship title and was very special. The second would be the Valuev fight because that was surreal. I remember not sleeping all night and then sitting there the next morning realising the magnitude of it all.
“People will remember David however they choose to. After the disappointment of the Wladimir fight and the unfair criticism David got, that has kind of led people’s opinions of him. But reading what’s been said this week, I see all of a sudden people are saying, ‘hang on a second, we actually do want him to fight the Klitschkos because there is no-one else to challenge them.’ But who knows how people will remember him?”
As for the negotiations over a possible showdown with Vitali Klitschko, Booth confirmed they were over as soon as they begun.
“There is no offer of a fight,“ he said. “I had one conversation with Bernd and told David about that conversation and what was very weakly alluded to regards what they would consider offering him. David just said, ‘forget it’.”
photo by Eoin Mundow/ClevaMedia/FightWireImages.com