David Haye’s dream of regaining the world heavyweight title appears to be over as the Londoner faces retirement due to a shoulder injury.
The Londoner has pulled out of his rescheduled February 8 fight with domestic rival Tyson Fury and looks set to end his career permanently after an unsuccessful operation last week.
“It’s a crushing blow for me,” he said.
“I had big plans for next year and the ultimate goal was to win back the world heavyweight title, something my amazing fans deserve.
“What I didn’t anticipate was that this year would be the unluckiest of my career and that a number of injuries would disrupt my plans so much.
“Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. The boxing gods keep hinting that maybe enough is enough and that it’s time to finally hang up my gloves.”
The former WBA champion underwent a five-hour operation to reconstruct his right shoulder in Germany on Thursday but has been told to “seriously consider” retiring, according to a statement from his Hayemaker Promotions company.
“I genuinely believed the shoulder injury wasn’t that bad,” said the 33-year-old.
“But the doctor sent me for a detailed MRI scan and within 24 hours I was told the full extent of the damage.
“Twenty-four hours after that I was in the operating theatre.
“The surgery and subsequent results are a bitter pill to swallow because I truly felt I had a lot more to offer and was looking forward to paying back my loyal fans with some great fights in 2014.
“But I’ve been boxing for 23 years now, amateur and pro, and this has clearly taken its toll on my body.
“I can only offer my sincerest apologies to all those fans who have followed me over the years and, like me, wanted to finish on a real high. This wasn’t how I wanted to end 2013.
“If I’m now destined to have won the European championship, the unified world cruiserweight championship and the WBA heavyweight championship of the world - with a record of 28 fights, 26 wins, 24 victories coming via knockout and only two defeats – then so be it.
“I’m proud of these achievements and consider my boxing career a huge success.”
The Bermondsey fighter had surgery on his ruptured right subscapularis and bicep tendon attachments without success and it appears his impressive fifth-round blow-out of Dereck Chisora in July last year will prove to be his final appearance in a boxing ring.
The charismatic former cruiserweight champion has enjoyed a colourful career. An outstanding amateur, Haye made waves as a promising young professional before seeing his unbeaten record destroyed by veteran underdog Carl Thompson in 2004.
He bounced back to become European cruiserweight champion and went on to claim the WBC, WBO and WBA world titles before stepping up to heavyweight.
He achieved his childhood ambition of claiming a portion of the so-called ’richest prize in sport’ by dethroning giant WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev in Germany in 2009.
However, he will largely be remembered for a feeble showing in his biggest fight, a lop-sided points loss to the dominant Wladimir Klitschko two years ago.
He went on to retire briefly, before an infamous brawl with Chisora prompted his return to the ring to settle their dispute.
He had been due to fight another British rival, Fury, in September but pulled out after suffering a cut in sparring.
It now seems that intriguing fight will never happen, as Haye looks set to hang up the gloves for good.