David Haye

David Haye

Last Updated: 21/10/13 5:34pm

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Inspired by Muhammad Ali, Haye always saw his destiny as becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. His entire career has been managed with that goal in mind, and in 2009 he achieved his ambition by defeating WBA champion Nicolai Valuev.

FROM: London, UK
AGE: 32
NICKNAME: The Hayemaker
DIVISION: Heavyweight
WINS: 26
BY KO: 24

The road was not long, nor particularly winding - but there were some bumps along the way. As an amateur Haye reached the final of the World Championships only to be defeated by Cuban Odlanier Solis in the final of the heavyweight division.

But on joining the paid ranks Haye set out to conquer the cruiserweight ranks and proceeded to blast out his first 10 opponents inside four rounds. He was already one of the UK's brightest prospects.

It was time to step up his level of opponent and veteran Carl Thompson was considered the perfect foe, five years on from his loss of the WBO belt to Johnny Nelson.

But 'The Cat' still had some firepower left in him and after soaking up everything Haye threw at him, turned the fight on its head by dropping the now exhausted youngster twice in the fifth round to end the contest.

It was a shattering blow for the 'Hayemaker', but it came early enough in his career for him to regroup and never again would he make the mistake of punching himself out in search of an early stoppage.

Yet in 26 wins to date, only two opponents have taken him the distance - the ultra-durable Belgian Ismail Ibdoul, and Russian Valuev. Haye returned three months on from the Thompson loss and proceeded to blow his opponents away, picking up the European title en route.

The next stage in his development came in 2007 when Haye went after Jean-Marc Mormeck, the WBA and WBC champion and the most-highly regarded of all the active cruiserweights. With what remains arguably his finest performance, the Londoner went to France and beat Mormeck in seven rounds.

He had little intention of sticking around at the 200lb limit - that dream of heavyweight glory was now within touching distance. But when WBO champion Enzo Maccarinelli came calling, Haye was happy to oblige - the Welshman was blown away inside two rounds.

By this time Haye was already chasing a fight with the Klitschko brothers, the most respected of the heavyweight champions. First he would have to prove his worth against veteran American Monte Barrett, who was dispatched in five rounds.

Negotiations with the Klitschkos began - Haye vs Wladimir was signed but the Londoner was forced out with a back injury - eventually the 7ft Valuev was the one standing in the way of the Hayemaker's heavyweight title dreams. And he wouldn't be denied. Despite the massive size difference, Haye fought conservatively but rocked the Russian late on before securing a majority points verdict to claim the title.

Another veteran, John Ruiz, was sent into retirement after a nine-round battering and then Audley Harrison talked himself into a title shot, only to freeze on the big day and offer little resistance. It wasn't the best preparation for his biggest challenge yet, but Haye was now ready to fight Wladimir Klitschko in the summer of 2011 in a bid to unify the titles.

But it proved a mountainous task for the Brit, who blamed a broken little toe on the most lacklustre performance of his career. The Klitschkos had all the belts between them, and Haye announced his retirement at 30.

Only no-one believed him, and after calling out Vitali Klitschko at a press conference following his victory over Dereck Chisora, Haye and Chisora were involved in an unseemly brawl that resulted in the latter losing his licence.

However, later that year the Hayemaker was lured out of retirement with another huge payday. It was business as usual as he did to Chisora what nobody - including Tyson Fury and Vitali Klitschko - had done before, stopping him in five rounds.

Haye gained crossover appeal with a successful stint in 'I'm a Celebrity' while he pondered his future in the ring. And with a fight against either of the Klitschkos seemingly out of the equation, another blockbuster domestic fight is the next best thing.

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