David Haye has announced his retirement from boxing at the age of 37.
The former WBA heavyweight champion insisted he would stop fighting if he again lost to Tony Bellew in their rematch last month, and having shown significant signs of decline before being stopped in five rounds he has confirmed he no longer plans to fight on.
Haye first announced his retirement in October 2011 on his 31st birthday, before a lucrative grudge match with Dereck Chisora the following summer tempted him to return.
He was also advised to retire following surgery on his right shoulder in November 2013, but returned in January 2016 to secure two unremarkable victories and then suffer his third and fourth professional defeats, both against Bellew.
“Thanks to boxing, I have been able to live my unencumbered childhood dream,” Haye said in a statement.
“I became the first ever British boxer to unify the cruiserweight division. I then achieved my childhood dream when I beat WBA heavyweight champion of the world Nikolai Valuev, the ‘Beast from the East’, in a real life ‘David and Goliath’ match.
“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.
“In the end, what 20,000 fans inside London’s O2 Arena witnessed was me giving 100 per cent effort (against Bellew) 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 of 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 counter-attacks, the sort I’ve effortlessly thrown since my teenage years, are no longer in my armoury. 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.”
– Press Association