BREAKING: Former world champion David Haye retires after Bellew defeat
David Haye has announced his retirement from boxing.
The former heavyweight champion decided to call it quits a month after his second defeat by Tony Bellew.
Haye, 37, was a two-weight ruler of the world after dominating both the cruiserweight and heavyweight scene at the peak of his powers.
But after failing to beat Bellew in their May 5 rematch, the lovable Londoner has finally confirmed he is walking away.
"My 16-year, 32-fight professional career was one of two halves," he said.
"In the first eight years, everything ran smoothly. I had 25 fights and became the first ever British boxer to unify the cruiserweight division (WBA, WBC and WBO World Championships).
"I then achieved my childhood dream when I beat WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World Nikolay Valuev.
"Lifting that World Heavyweight Championship meant I’d fulfilled a promise I’d made to my mum, Jane, at the age of three.
"It also meant I was the second boxer in history – after Evander Holyfield – to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight. That was an incredibly proud moment for me and my family and friends."
Haye, who previously spoke of his desire to quit boxing at 31, admits he wasn't as active he would have liked to have been in the latter stages of his career - citing the injuries which cursed his comeback.
"If I had it my way, I would have fought as many as 16 times in the second half, the last eight years," said Haye.
"But, unfortunately, during this time my faulty body only allowed me to step through the ropes on seven occasions – four wins, three losses – and often it was a fight just getting to the ring in one piece.
"In the past five years I have snapped (fully ruptured) both biceps, my rotator cuff and my Achilles tendon. All four injuries were potentially career-ending and each of them required operations with months of intense rehabilitation."
Haye, who enthralled fans with past rivalries against Enzo Maccarinelli, Wladimir Klitschko and Dereck Chisora, paid tribute to his final nemesis Bellew.
David Haye's record
Won: 28 (26 KOs)
And the Bermondsey fighter admitted he would have endured a difficult evening against the Merseyside favourite, who ultimately finished off his career with a fifth round stoppage.
"We publicly showed each other little respect. But this was just two veterans giving the crowd what they wanted: a grudge match," said Haye.
"Despite the pre-fight hype, I can assure you I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for Tony.
"As for what happened on May 5, I did not walk to the ring injured, nor injure myself during the fight.
"I was in tip-top shape. I’d adapted and modified training sessions around my 37-year-old body with great success. When stood in front of the locker room mirror before the fight, my body looked as it did 10 years ago; my mind primed and ready for action. I walked to the ring with nothing but confidence. But looks can be deceiving.
"In the end, what 20,000 fans inside London’s O2 Arena witnessed was me giving 100% effort but performing way below world level.
"For my fans, it must have been like going to support their favourite thoroughbred racehorse at the Grand National, only to see their stallion stumble out the gates like a sedated mule at the Donkey Derby.
"I saw punches coming but wasn’t quick enough to avoid them. I created openings but lacked the speed and agility to capitalise on them. Quick, bread and butter counterattacks, the sort I’ve effortlessly thrown since my teenage years, are no longer in my armoury. And when I take shots, they now shake me to my boots.
"The things I used to be able to do in the ring – instinctively – now exist only in my mind and in video clips of my old fights.
"That said, credit where it’s due: even 10 years ago – in my ‘Haye Day’ – I’d have had a hard night fighting the 2018 version of Tony Bellew. He boxed brilliantly.
"Of course, my ego would have loved to have retired on a win, or as a champion.
"But, deep down, I know my effort was the very best I had left to give. I also know that underwhelming effort revealed the truth about my current abilities in a world-class boxing arena."
Haye, who also paid tribute to his "amazing" fans, insists this is not the end for him as he focuses on promoting up-and-coming heavyweight Joe Joyce.
"This is not the end of my story," said Haye, who remains a popular TV personality following his 2012 stint on ITV's popular 'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here' series.
"It’s simply the start of something new."
Unbeaten Joyce fights this Friday at York Hall, taking on Richard Lartey for the Commonwealth title.
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