David Haye Exclusive: No regrets... I always tried to give the fans the fights they wanted
In his first column since announcing the decision to retire, David Haye reflects on his 16 years in the ring, looks ahead to life as a promoter with Hayemaker Promotions and discusses exciting times in the heavyweight division...
"I don't believe Fury is the man of old. I believe the Tyson Fury that beat Wladimir Klitschko would handle Bellew pretty easily but I'm not sure that guy will ever be seen again."
On making the decision to retire...
I'm feeling great. The public have been brilliant. I popped to Selfridges the day after making the announcement and the amount of people who stopped me and said that they really appreciated what I contributed to British boxing was amazing. It was really nice to hear.
When you're an active fighter everything is focused on the next fight. Now they know there are no fights left, the public can actually reflect on their relationship with me and what those nights in the ring meant to them. Its extremely heart-warming. Boxing is entertainment and it's nice to know you have entertained so many people over the years.
I have always tried to give the fans the fights they wanted. I've travelled abroad, fought the very best and brought world titles back to Britain. You are representing your country when you go abroad and bringing titles back to the UK was something I will always be proud of for achieving. I've had a long and fulfilling career.
Sixteen years as a professional is a long time and even my last fight was at a sold-out O2 Arena. In fact, my last four fights at The O2 didn't have an empty seat in the house and it was two football stadiums before that. I was a big event fighter, in mega pay-per-view events to the very end and I hope that's what people remember.
What the future holds...
Now the fights have finished I will spend more time with my family and friends. When you are active fighter and in training you are in lock down and you just don't get to spend the quality time with your family.
And I will also be kept very busy with Hayemaker Promotions - we have big Joe Joyce, Michael 'Venom' Page, Kody Davies, Ruqsana Begum and plenty of other great prospects. I think all of them have the capabilities to go to the top and it's just a matter of getting them the right fight at the right time.
Tonight (Friday) they will all be putting their undefeated records on the line at London's York Hall, live on Dave. They've all put the work in and had solid training camps, tonight is the fun part!
I have been doing this a long time and understand all aspects of the sport of boxing. For someone coming through the game now there are many different paths to your end goal, I have experience of all sides, as boxer, manager and promoter.
I managed to navigate myself through two weight divisions and I look forward to passing on this knowledge to the Hayemaker Ringstar stable, seeing them fulfilling their full potential.
On Joyce and Page...
I want the British public to see what a star Joe Joyce is. He truly is a special talent with the world at his feet. This is a guy who used to spar with Anthony Joshua for many years and he was never knocked down. Joshua v Joyce, for me, will be a mega fight in a couple of years.
Joe has what it takes. He is the same size as AJ - 6ft 6in and a solid 18 stone - he does the right things, has the know-how, is seasoned as a 32-year-old. I have never known a heavyweight to have the endurance and conditioning that he does.
They're both improving every time they get in the ring. It's a natural fight, a match made in heaven.
With MVP, everyone knows his pedigree as a MMA fighter, he was also a kickboxing world champion and he's decided to try his hand at boxing. He is probably one of the most talented, well-rounded boxers I have ever seen. Some of the things he does in the ring you have to see to believe. I am looking forward to unleashing him on the British public.
Michael put on a masterclass in his first fight at the Indigo, raising a few eyebrows with his style. People are chomping at the big to see this guy in action.
He reminds of a prime Naseem Hamed, he comes with so much flavour, and punches from crazy angles that defy gravity. I really think he'll get British boxing buzzing.
The next show will be on UK television on Dave tonight. Anyone with a Freeview box can tune in. For me it's really important that almost anybody can watch, giving new fans the opportunity to tune in without cost. It's really important to help the sport grow.
On the heavyweight division...
It's such a great division. You have Anthony Joshua flying the flag, Deontay Wilder on the other side of the Atlantic screaming and shouting for the fight. All eyes are on the heavyweight division and Joshua v Wilder will be the biggest and best fight by far, the world is excited.
They are the best heavyweights on the planet, holding all the belts. The Ring Magazine title is up for grabs too as this is no.1 and no.2 fighting.It makes for an absolutely cracking fight.
And it's dangerous for both of them. They're a pair of monsters, both have one-punch knockout power, young and in their prime. This is what boxing is all about.
People aren't sure who will win. It's a cliché but it's all about one punch. If Wilder lands one of those monstrous right-hands on the chin it changes everything in the fight and vice versa. We have seen AJ knock out Klitschko, Dillian Whyte.
The only question mark is who can take one of those shots. We know Joshua can take a Klitschko punch and get up, and Wilder one from Luis Ortiz but neither has been hit with punches the other man can throw. What happens when both of them land on each other? We don't know.
Are they going to be cagey or go out with all guns blazing? Again, we don't know. The unknown makes this fight so exciting. I can't put a prediction on it now. It's a genuine 50/50 fight.
Both proven they've got the height, power, size, reach. I don't see any department where either has been left wanting. Maybe Joshua ran out of steam against Klitschko but he still knocked him out in the 11th round so how tired was he really?!
How would I have tackled AJ?
I have always thought how a prime David Haye would fight a Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis. But AJ? I'd have given it a good go I can tell you that. It's a shame you can't get a time machine and go back. It would have been exciting I can guarantee that. One way or another, you would not have heard the final bell!
On Bellew's next fight...
I would like to see Tony Bellew in there with Tyson Fury, I think that would be a great fight. Tony has proved his credentials at heavyweight by beating me twice when no-one really gave him a shot.
I don't believe Fury is the man of old. I believe the Tyson Fury that beat Wladimir Klitschko would handle Bellew pretty easily but I'm not sure that guy will ever be seen again.
Having said that though, they are both two huge personalities and it will make for a great spectacle.
Valuev still the highlight...
This was probably the biggest fight of my career for a number of reasons.
I always said even when I was a young kid that I would be heavyweight champion of the world. I just knew that was something big and special. I kept saying it every day and the next thing you know I am standing across the ring from a 7ft2 150kg giant. David had to beat Goliath that day to make his dreams a reality.
We constructed a tremendous gameplan, stuck with it and managed to leave as the WBA heavyweight champion of the world. The same belt my heroes Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis once held. That, I believe was the one that cemented my legacy and was a lifelong ambition realised.
Everything that happens to you in life is for a reason. Everything positive, everything negative, but we learn more from the negatives. In times of struggle you realise what you could have done different if given the chance again. I have had a lot of experience in boxing and I'm just trying to carry some of those life lessons over to my post-boxing career and when guiding the Hayemaker Ringstar stable.
Still keeping in shape in my post-fighting career...
I enjoy the pleasures but I've always been quite disciplined with my eating and my conditioning and I'll always be in decent nick. My son Cassius is a great tennis player, so since May 5th I have started to have lessons - I need at least to be good enough to warm him up!
David Haye will be a regular columnist here on Betting.Betfair, delivering his exclusive verdict on all of the big fights