Boxing: Former heavyweight champion David Haye announces retirement

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The Independent Online

Former heavyweight champion of the world David Haye has announced his retirement.

Haye, who lost his WBA title to Wladimir Klitschko in July, has always said he would not fight beyond his 31st birthday - which is today - and followed up on that promise by confirming he has hung up his gloves.

"Today's date is October 13, 2011 and I've just turned 31 years of age," he said in a statement.

"As the clock struck 12 last night my professional boxing career came to an end."

There were suggestions that Haye would fight WBC champion Vitali Klitschko next year, but the Londoner appears to have ruled that out.

"Vitali Klitschko did show an interest in sharing a ring with me in 2012," he said.

"But since that initial declaration we have heard the wrong noises from Team Klitschko, which has left me thinking there is little chance of the fight ever coming to fruition."

Retirement announcements are treated with relative scepticism as many fighters then come back to fight again.

When asked whether he would consider another big-money fight, Haye added: "I doubt it."

It has been suggested Haye has only made the announcement to encourage Vitali into the ring.

However, the claim by Vitali's manager, Bernd Boente, that Haye has been talking to the Klitchskos behind the scenes has been denied.

"If you look back over my interviews, I have always said this would be the date," the former WBA heavyweight champion told Sky Sports News.

"I said I wouldn't box into my 32nd year and I'm 31 now. That's it. I love boxing and training but you have to call it a day sooner or later.

"I'm healthy, in my prime and have no damage.

"I'd love nothing better than to knock Vitali out. (Trainer and manager) Adam Booth has had to deal with Boente anyway, tying up finances from July, and from what Adam told me, they believe I'm just another challenger and if that's how they see me, good luck to them.

"I know what I'm about and I know what I bring to the table. I understand they are business men, but I no longer have to be a part of that.

"(Retirement) wasn't something I just came up with last week. It's what I've been saying since I was an amateur. This has always been the date. It's a coincidence that I happened to lose my last fight, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

"I've always set the bar as high as I could. It didn't work out against Wladimir, I fell short, but I'm a two-weight world champion and one of the most successful British boxers ever."

Haye, who initially made his name as a cruiserweight before stepping up to the top division and became a world champion with a win over Nikolai Valuev, was a box-office draw in the second half of his career, and would not have been short of takers had he carried on.

But that, he says, was not an option.

"There's always one more pay day," he added.

"Talk to any fighter - there'd be a pay day for Mike Tyson if he wanted to. But me and Adam have been very shrewd in how we've planned my career.

"I didn't have to have a heavyweight career. I was financially okay and could have retired after my cruiserweight days, but I promised my mum I would be the heavyweight champion of the world.

"I was heavyweight champion of the world and no one can take that away from me."

Haye drew controversy in April 2009 when he wore a t-shirt depicting him holding up the severed heads of both Klitschko brothers in the run-up to his original fight against Wladimir, which Haye pulled out of due to a back injury.

The Londoner continued to goad the brothers in the build-up to his fight against Wladimir this summer, when he launched an application called 'David Haye's Knockout', the advertising poster for which depicted him decapitating a Klitschko lookalike.

Haye has never hidden his dislike of the brothers and their boxing style, regularly branding them slow, robotic and dull characters who duck big fights.

He thinks the heavyweight division will continue to be a dull place if the Ukrainians continue to dominate.

"Team Klitschko are a business and they rarely take on tough opponents unless they are forced to," Haye added.

"That is why Wladimir now fights my old victim Jean-Marc Mormeck on December 10 and Vitali will likely fight Chris Arreola in two unattractive match-ups that will send the heavyweight division back into the doldrums."