It wasn’t described as a retirement by the man himself, more of a long-term layoff due to injuries –– and untimely ones at that.
Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson went through similar periods of inactivity and returned to win the world heavyweight title.
But while a heavyweight crown is something David Haye has in his sights as he heads back into the ring against Australia’s Mark de Mori tonight at the O2 Arena, it remains to be seen whether he can do as the aforementioned duo did.
Suspension and prison are somewhat different to career-threatening shoulder surgery and doctors communicating the fact that he shouldn’t box again, but the 35-year-old Bermondsey boy is determined to show that there is life in the old dog yet.
Live and exclusive on Dave, yet another free-to-air channel showing boxing, ‘Haye Day’, as the card is being billed, was set up for Haye to get some money in the bank as much as it was to get back in the rankings.
For what it’s worth, I think the opponent was smartly picked by Haye’s people as he looks to display himself as a million dollars in a bid to get a shot at either the WBC champion Deontay Wilder, Wladimir Klitschko conqueror Tyson Fury or even high-flying undefeated prospect Anthony Joshua.
But a shot at a title in his next fight would be richly undeserved and you could even argue that the aforementioned Joshua, a 2012 Olympic champion, should get the shot ahead of Haye because of his incredibly lofty rankings with two of the four major governing bodies in the shape of the WBC and the IBF.
Haye has recently described himself as “a bit more mature” and “certainly less heated” than he was at the time of the situation that led to the domestic dust-up with Dereck Chisora at West Ham United’s Upton Park football ground in the pissing down rain.
I’d have to agree with that, but should he not get past De Mori, who many are saying will be stopped inside the first half of the 10-round showdown, you’d have to argue that there is an ulterior motive to the return of ‘The Hayemaker,’ which is even more believable given the fact that new trainer Shane McGuigan stated that Haye was so unfit he could barely train when he ventured into his gym.
It’s only a matter of time before we find out whether he’s still got what it takes.
I predict a stoppage inside five rounds, not a riot as many of you were expecting me to say.
The show airs tonight (Saturday) –– and before anyone says it, yes, I know this is supposed to be a Friday column –– from 9pm on Dave.
Elliot Foster is a NCTJ-accredited freelance journalist who contributes to several other leading publications on a daily basis. Follow Elliot on Twitter at @freelancefoz.