A toe, a brawl and several lost years: How David Haye polarized UK fans

David Haye Valuev

Former two-weight world champion David Haye was on top of the world in 2009, having just defeated Nikolai Valuev in a mammoth effort.

Traveling to Germany in November of that year, Haye took on an almost toppled the seven-foot giant.

As it turned out, there was no robbery on the cards. ‘The Hayemaker’ returned to the United Kingdom a hero.

Appearing on TV almost every week, Haye had quickly become the most recognizable sportsman in the country.

He enhanced his reputation by stopping John Ruiz before his fateful Pay Per View victory over Audley Harrison almost collapsed the paid platform.

Harrison was the beginning of the end when it came down to Haye’s highest regard in the British public eye.

After chasing Wladimir Klitschko for years, Haye finally landed his chance in July 2011. From then on, Haye turned into Marmite.

Losing on points and blaming his toe was the first mistake. The Londoner then followed it up by punching the much-loved Derek Chisora in the mouth with a bottle in his hand at a press conference.

Despite the controversy, Haye continued to enjoy a mass of eyes on his career. Interest led to promoter Frank Warren fighting to gain both Haye and Chisora Lithuanian boxing licenses to maneuver a ban inflicted on the pair.

In the end, it was Haye who emerged victorious before further bad decisions ruined his once-perfect image in the sport.


David Haye Tyson fury

Pulling out on a clash with Tyson Fury, which the ink dried on two occasions, seemed to be the last straw for the UK contingent.

The fact Fury has ended up being such a high-profile figure hasn’t helped.

Haye then cited a shoulder injury for some three and a half years out of action.

David Haye Tyson Fury

At 34 in 2015, Haye was plotting a colossal comeback. He even sought the advice of former opponent Wladimir’s older brother Vitali Klitschko. They discussed what he stated to be ‘family, politics, and big fights’ in the future.

His swift retirement was a slap in the face and came just over a year after the Fury fight collapse.

Adamant that the New Year of 2015 would be the second coming of his talents, It had been six long years since Haye ripped the world title belt from Russian Valuev.

In turning to Vitali, Haye sought good advice as he plotted a route back to the sport’s top. That failed to materialize.

It was some thirteen months later that Haye would eventually surface to compete in two farcical bouts.

Beating the hapless Mark De Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj, Haye proved he could still take out the also-rans despite evident deterioration.

But a lack of top TV coverage and ticket sales that needed an extra hand, Haye had to find something big. He had to find it fast.


That’s where Tony Bellew came in. David Haye had found a gap in the market he had to exploit.

Bellew wanted to move up after winning the WBC cruiserweight belt. It was common knowledge that Haye was there for the taking. Both knew they could cash in. And cash in, they did.

When the dust settled on two bad defeats, Haye did nothing to help his legacy. The fact that the last seven years of his career were shrouded in doubt is a sad state of affairs.

Once the most-liked fighter in the UK, Haye is sadly a chalk and cheese figure. He takes abuse in equal measures as the praise that was once a constant.

Without injuries, Haye could have possibly been one of the greatest fighters British shores had ever seen.

Too few highs backed up a massive high in Valuev.

The views expressed in this article are that of the Editor, Phil Jay. WBN celebrated its 10th Anniversary on August 1st, 2020, and is the top-visited independent boxing news website in the world.

Phil Jay is an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay