David Haye has announced his retirement from the sport of boxing.
The two-division world champion released a lengthy statement on his website making his retirement official. Some reasons cited that contributed to his retirement were injuries and inability to perform at a world class level. In that statement, Haye also said he had spinal surgery in 2015, a surgery Haye said resulted in him trying to learn how to walk again.
"The biggest physical challenge I had to face, however, was a spinal surgery in March 2015. I herniated a disc in my lower back 10 years ago and years of intense training wore this disc away. This caused fragments of disc to push into my spinal nerve passage, resulting in chronic pain and loss of function in both legs, and an operation was required to put a two-centimetre metal cage between two vertebrae and implant two metal rods with screws and bone grafts to fuse it all together."
Among the accolades Haye has accumulated throughout his career, Haye is the first-ever British boxer to unify the cruiserweight division (WBA, WBC and WBO titles) when he did so in 2008. Haye’s first world title win came in the year before when he defeated Jean Marc Mormeck to win the unified WBA and WBC title, following it up with a win over then-WBO champion Enzo Maccarinelli.
His time as the cruiserweight division’s top boxer was short-lived as he soon made the jump to heavyweight to become a world champion in that weight class. He achieved that in 2009 when he won a majority decision over Nikolay Valuev to win the WBA world heavyweight title, becoming the second man in boxing history to win a cruiserweight and heavyweight world titles. After two successful title defenses in 2010, Haye fought Wladimir Klitschko in the biggest bout of his career, losing a unanimous decision in 2011.
Once Haye bounced back from his spinal surgery, Haye won his next two fights against Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj, but he wouldn’t rise back to true prominence until the end of 2016 when he called out then-cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew.
Bellew and Haye had their grudge match in 2017 with Bellew coming out on top and Haye suffering a torn Achilles in the fight. The two were slated to fight in a rematch late last year, but Haye suffered a torn biceps which delayed the fight until this past May 5. In the rematch, Bellew knocked Haye down multiple times before the referee stopped the bout in the fifth round. Haye entertained retirement talks in the post-fight interview, but wouldn’t commit to retirement, saying he would need to think it over in the coming weeks.
The 37-year-old Haye ends a career that started in 2002 with a 28-4 (26 KO) professional record. In 2008, Haye founded his own boxing promotional company, Hayemaker Promotions. The full statement can be read at this link and his retirement video can be seen in the video above.