Since David Haye last secured a professional win in 2016 against the little-known Arnold Gjergjaj, the ‘Hayemaker’ has been stopped twice by Tony Bellew, faced a plethora of career-threatening injuries, retired and most recently gone the distance with friend and businessman Joe Fournier in an eight-round exhibition.
Now, Haye wants to fight Tyson Fury.
Perhaps not the easiest task, as a certain Deontay Wilder will attest to, after suffering two brutal defeats at the hands of the Gypsy King, who ended their historic trilogy with a scintillating 11th-round stoppage over the weekend to cement his status as the division’s ‘top dog’, as he put it.
Fury’s display of sublime skill, miraculous powers of recovery and an unfathomable engine at 277lbs was clearly not enough to deter Haye, who beforehand predicted a knockout win for Wilder, as he doubled-down on his recently-stated desire to settle his own rivalry with the Brit.
‘That big fat dosser, I know his kryptonite, I know what he can’t handle,’ he said before the fight. And after? ‘It’s 100 per cent serious. I said the only person I’d put my body through a comeback for would be for the No 1 heavyweight on the planet.’
But is a match-up between the long-term rivals actually a possibility? Or is Haye’s desire more of a fantasy?
Tyson Fury retained his WBC title with an 11th-round stoppage win over Deontay Wilder
David Haye, 40, has since doubled-down on his recently-stated desire to fight the Gypsy King
The rivalry between Haye and Fury predates the latter’s extraordinary rise to the head of the heavyweight division – and an already-guaranteed place in the history books.
The pair were scheduled to fight twice, once in 2013 and the other in 2014, with Haye harnessing ambitions to fight Vitali Klitschko, the brother of Wladimir, of whom he lost his WBA title to via unanimous decision in 2011.
Meanwhile, Fury was looking to propel himself towards his own bout with Wladimir Klitschko, who he then memorably defeated in 2015 to become unified champion.
The fights would never materialise, however, with Haye pulling out on both occasions. First after suffering a ‘deep cut’ in the final spar of his training camp, and second after requiring reconstructive shoulder surgery that would keep him out for the best part of four years.
But after Fury rose to the occasion in Dusseldorf, achieving what Haye was unable to do himself, a still-incensed Gypsy King insisted the chapter between he and his British rival was now closed for good.
Haye pulled out of two scheduled bouts against Fury, with the latter then insisting he would never give his British rival another chance
Fury achieved what Haye wasn’t able to by defeating the long-reigning Wladimir Klitschko
‘David Haye will never get a fight against Tyson Fury after what he did to me,’ Fury said. ‘I remember him saying that he’d never give me a payday. Well, the shoe is on the other foot now.
‘If he gets a mandatory shot with any of the governing bodies, I’ll vacate the title. Let him go and fight Fred Flintstone or Joe Bloggs and make no money.
‘I don’t care if he says I can make £10million by fighting him, it’s not about money for me.
‘I knew how much boxers got messed about at the highest level. But there were times (when Haye pulled out of the fights) that I didn’t want to box any more. He is a pretender, a fraud and he is getting no opportunities from us.’
Haye still wants to face Fury, even after the Gypsy King’s emphatic win over Wilder
Six years later, the situation is still much the same, regardless of Haye’s recent call-outs. Fury is at the top of the food chain, while Haye – who insists it’s the 6ft 9in giant or no-one – is on the periphery… at best.
Fury’s father John certainly hasn’t forgotten the war of words between the two camps, labelling the former heavyweight champion and unified cruiserweight king an ‘idiot’.
‘He’s a hater, he’s got nothing good to say, he’s not a good pundit, he gets everything wrong and it’s all about David Haye,’ he said after his son’s win over Wilder.
‘I’m not knocking his achievements, he did a brilliant job as world champion, but he needs to grow up and get a personality. I’ve got no respect for that man at all, none.’
John Fury insisted he has ‘no respect’ for ‘idiot’ Haye after his prediction for Wilder to win
Haye’s last professional outing came in a knockout defeat to Tony Bellew back in 2018
But even aside from the Fury family’s evident disdain, it’s Haye’s recent activity – or lack of – that essentially rules him out of an all-British affair.
The Hayemaker’s most recent professional outings came in a pair of emphatic defeats to former cruiserweight champion and significant underdog Bellew, who stepped up to heavyweight to take on the bigger man, before dropping down once more and losing to Oleksandr Usyk in his final bout.
In the first encounter, Haye somehow made it to the 11th round after suffering a gruesome Achilles injury in the sixth, before the towel was finally thrown in with the Brit down and tangled in the ropes.
In the second, which was delayed after Haye added to his ever-growing collection of injuries with a torn bicep, Bellew won more convincingly with a stunning fifth-round knockout, with the Hayemaker subsequently announcing his retirement.
And most recently, Haye failed to make an impression after outclassing but going the distance with Fournier on the undercard of Evander Holyfield vs Vitor Belfort.
Haye insisted he had deliberated refrained from unleashing his famous right-hand, but it certainly wasn’t a performance that would entice Fury into scheduling a third bout.
More importantly, fury’s UK promoter Frank Warren, though admitting a bout between the pair would be a huge affair, insisted it’s not actually a practical proposition.
‘I’m sure he’s calling out Tyson because him and Tyson, let’s get it right, would be a huge fight,’ he said.
‘But I think he’s got to do a bit more before talking about Tyson Fury. For No 1, he’d have to get rated, and to get rated you’ve got to fight a rated fighter.’
Haye defeated friend Joe Fournier on the undercard of Evander Holyfield vs Vitor Belfort
But regardless of inactivity and practicality, perhaps the real question is, why on earth would Fury give Haye a shot?
The Gypsy King has a clear plan in mind as he looks to cement his place among the all-time heavyweight greats.
Prior to his destructive performance against Wilder, Fury listed his ideal next four fights, which were Dillian Whyte in December, an Anthony Joshua undisputed double-header next year and finally a send-off bout against Derek Chisora.
Of course, Joshua is now tied into a rematch with Usyk having lost his collection of belts in September, but that will only prolong Fury’s pursuit of the undisputed championship or simply change the opponent standing in his way.
Other than the more nostalgic final outing against Chisora, the rest have purpose; they make sense. Whyte has now been installed as Fury’s mandatory challenger, and providing he defeats Otto Wallin this month, he will need taking care of sooner or later.
And as for a fight for all the belts, well it’s the opportunity for eternal glory. Where does Haye fit in the equation? He doesn’t.
Dillian Whyte has been named mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBC heavyweight title
But he must first overcome Otto Wallin (right), who caused Fury all sorts of problems when they squared off in Las Vegas in 2019
Fury has not fought in the UK since his farcical outing against Francesco Pianeta back in 2018. But a homecoming fight against Whyte, back on track after his stunning knockout win over Alexander Povetkin, would undoubtedly sell out a stadium.
And an impressive display against Wallin, who caused Fury all sorts of problems in their 2019 outing, would only fuel the fight further.
But Haye? Well, he’s admitted himself that a fight between he and Fury is not exactly a 50-50 – despite insisting he would come out on top.
‘I genuinely, genuinely do,’ Haye said, when asked if he felt he would emerge victorious. ‘You look at my last two fights. I had an Achilles tendon rupture. I had a bicep rupture. I got battered in the second fight, I haven’t done anything in three years. There’s no reason why, on paper, I’ve got any chance.
‘But what I do have – I’ve got every single person thinking I’ve got no chance. How hard do you think Fury would train to fight me, knowing how washed up and finished I am?’
He continued: ‘Fury is way better than me on paper and in reality. I think the psychology of someone thinking they can completely dominate you, and they don’t quite understand what you bring to the table, it gives you power.’
Is that what the general public really want to see? Not a domestic dust-up against an active and live opponent in Whyte, but a bout that takes place eight years too late between Haye and Fury?
Where the only chances of an upset are that Fury overlooks his opponent? Where a Haye victory would likely see the 40-year-old stroll off into the sun leaving an undisputed showdown even further away? Perhaps not.
As John Fury said, Haye’s achievements cannot be knocked. What he did at cruiserweight was sensational; defeating Nikolai Valuev to win the heavyweight title unforgettable.
But without a win since 2016 and coming off two devastating defeats, a return to take on the heavyweight champion, particularly after Fury vowed he’d never give Haye another opportunity, is nothing more than wishful thinking.