David Haye won the WBA heavyweight crown when he beat Nikolay Valuev in 2009. Photograph: David Ebener/Actionplus
With a smile and a slice of chocolate cake for his 31st birthday David Haye confirmed his retirementon Thursday, but hinted that if Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko made an offer to fight him he could return to the ring.
Speaking at his Vauxhall gym on the date he always maintained would mark his career end, Haye, the former heavyweight and cruiserweight world champion, said: “No matter what I say people always think what they think. But I’ve always said this was going to be the day. In an ideal world I would have won my last fight. But I always liked the thought of going out with more to give. I’d like to be one of the ones who got out on his own terms.”
That final outing was the disappointing 12-round unanimous points defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg in July when the Ukrainian took Haye’s WBA heavyweight crown. Asked what would have made him carry on Haye said: “At one stage after the fight I said to Adam [Booth, his manager]: ‘Do whatever you can to get a rematch with Wladimir.’ Adam said: ‘I’ll try but he ain’t going to do it.’ And he’s fighting Jean-Marc Mormeck [next] so that shows.
“Then his brother made some noises. I just wanted to fight the guy who beat me. But you realise that isn’t going to happen â€“ Wladimir hasn’t made a career of giving a rematch to guys who have hurt him or given him trouble. Vitali’s name came up as recent as after fight with Tomasz Adamek [last month] when he said he wanted to fight. As soon as he started mentioning he was going to come to England I knew it wasn’t going to happen.”
Striking any deal in the Byzantine world of boxing is notoriously challenging. So is it a case of never say never regarding a bout with either brother? “I know what you mean,” Haye said. “But I’m not holding out for anything. Keep waiting [for an offer] â€“ good luck to you. What I want and what will happen are two different things.”
Bernd BÃ¶nte, the Klitschkos’ manager, has claimed negotiations are ongoing regarding Haye meeting Vitali, the WBC champion, next year. But Haye believes the Klitschko camp is merely using him. “Vitali is going to fight Chris Arreola [a 30-year-old American] and they can’t announce that [as] it’s going to get Vitali no credibility. So what he can say is: ‘I’ll fight David and get him out of retirement.’ Use my name to keep his profile up in the UK.”
If Haye does remain out of the ring he hopes to move in to acting. “That will be my next calling,” he said. “There are some things in the pipeline. I want to have the same success in my acting career as I did in my boxing career. I have been offered a few things but nothing concrete. I’m going to take the rest of the year off then next year the hard work starts.
“You can do the wrong [part] first, that can set you on a real bad path. I’m going to be as good as I can be. Its like any other art: you can’t just turn up and expect you’ll be good at it. Obviously I think I’m great.”
Pressed if he fancied a rom-com Haye said: “We’ll see, there’ll probably be a few explosions in there.” The Bermondsey fighter will not be joining Audley Harrison, against whom he made a three-round defence of his WBA heavyweight belt last November, on Strictly Come Dancing. “That’s not my cup of tea,” he said.
Haye is likely to be remembered for the manner of the defeat to Klitschko, a penchant for pre-fight trash talk, and the excitement he brought to a mundane heavyweight division.
Offering no regrets for his colourful language Haye produced one final soundbite to illustrate his contempt for the Germany-based Klitschkos, who he considers businessmen not boxers. “German people would probably turn up if they were taking a dump in the middle of the ring,” he said.