David Haye says 2015 spinal surgery made him two centimeters taller

David Haye

Lawrence Lustig

David Haye’s retirement statement was a powerful one as the Briton announced his decision to walk away from the sport following two losses against Tony Bellew. 

Haye, 37, was forced to admit defeat in his attempts to get fully fit on the back of a series of injuries over the second half of his career.

Although he was without ailment for his final fight with Bellew, Haye listed a catalog of conditions that hampered him during his successful career – one of which he kept firmly to himself.

“If I had it my way, I would have fought as many as 16 times in the second half, the last eight years. But, unfortunately, during this time, my faulty body only allowed me to step through the ropes on seven occasions – four wins, three losses – and often it was a fight just getting to the ring in one piece,” explained Haye.

“In the past five years, I have snapped (fully ruptured) both biceps, my rotator cuff, and my Achilles tendon. All four injuries were potentially career-ending, and each of them required operations with months of intense rehabilitation.

“The biggest physical challenge I had to face was a spinal surgery in March 2015. I herniated a disc in my lower back 10 years ago, and years of intense training wore this disc away.

“This caused fragments of a disc to push into my spinal nerve passage, resulting in chronic pain and loss of function in both legs, and an operation was required to put a two-centimeter metal cage between two vertebrae and implant two metal rods with screws and bone grafts to fuse it all together.

“I went into surgery 191 centimeters tall and came out 193 – not a bad silver lining! – but literally had to learn to walk again.

“This made my comeback fight against Mark de Mori (in January 2016) all the more meaningful, as it was only 10 months after such intrusive spinal surgery (as well as being my first fight in four-and-a-half years).

“Ultimately, this was one battle I had to fight in private, and it’s only because the process was recorded for a documentary that people will one day be able to grasp the severity of the situation,” he added.

‘The Hayemaker’ will now concentrate on his role as promoter, with the likes of Joe Joyce and Michael Page currently on his books.