David Haye pays tribute to Tony Bellew in his retirement statement

David Haye v Tony Bellew

David Haye confirmed his retirement from heavyweight boxing on Tuesday morning by releasing a video statement on social media and a much longer, worded message on his official website.

The 37-year-old Londoner has called time on a professional career that has spanned almost two decades, in a career that has seen him reach the highest of highs in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight division.

His last fight was against Tony Bellew, where the Hayemaker struggled to roll back the years and relive his former glories before eventually being stopped in the fifth round.

Throughout the build-up to the rematch - which was marred by Haye having to put the fight back due to an injury that he sustained - the pair found themselves embroiled in verbal spats towards one another, after very heated and engrossing battle 12 months earlier. 

Sadly for Haye, though, he couldn't put what he promised into practice.

During his time in the ring, Haye fought in 32 bouts, winning 28 of those fights, but it was May's clash with Bellew that forced him to retire.

In a 2,000-word statement posted on his official website, Haye reflected on his career, achievements within the sport and his decision to call it a day - the majority of which he summarised very nicely in a video you can see below.

However, he did also include a further special mention to Bellew in his website statement.

Despite not having always seen eye-to-eye in the build-up to both of their bouts, Haye was very magnanimous in defeat.

"Ahead of my final two fights with Tony Bellew, we publicly showed each other little respect," he wrote. "But this was just two veterans giving the crowd what they wanted: a grudge match.

"Despite the pre-fight hype, I can assure you I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for Tony. Whenever I traded punches with him, and whenever I was in his presence, I felt the inner warrior.

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"I saw a man who would take the battle as far as necessary to get victory; a man who, like myself, would rather die than give up or quit; a man I’d want on my side of the battlefield if going to war."

"As for what happened on May 5, 2018, I did not walk to the ring injured, nor injure myself during the fight.

"In the end, what 20,000 fans inside London’s O2 Arena witnessed was me giving 100% effort but performing way below world level.

"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.

"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."

"I’ve taken my fair share of beatings over the years – some easier to swallow than others – but this last one had a certain heavenly comfort to it. In a strange sort of way, I’m proud to have gone out on my feet, on my own kamikaze terms."

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