David Haye says he has no intention of extending his comeback beyond September 11 but says he will be returning to the ring merely to prove a point to one of his best friends.
The 40-year-old former WBA heavyweight champion and WBC, WBA and WBO cruiserweight champion will be facing Joe Fourier over eight rounds at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya’s comeback.
Fournier, who made his money in a fitness business and by owing nightclubs, took up boxing in 2015, once boxing on Haye’s undercard at the O2 Arena in London. Haye said the idea of the fight came up on a boozy night on the Greek island of Mykonos when Fournier claimed he could beat him.
“This whole fight between us, came into existence when at dinner with a group in Mykonos we were asked who would win in a fight between us,” Haye said.
“I laughed, but out of respect for Joe’s ego suggested it would be close, maybe a draw - whilst winking to Joe.
“Joe’s straight-faced response was very different. He was deadly serious stating he would win in a fight today – I assumed it was just the tequila talking.
“And that’s exactly where is started. A boozy night in Mykonos, two alpha-males peacocking with a crowd of girls. Fast forward two weeks, I remain happily retired from boxing, with no intentions to make a traditional comeback to challenge the monsters of the division, but am fit and ready to prove my point against my over confident billionaire buddy.”
Fournier had nine fights against low-grade opposition between 2015 and 2016, winning them all but have one win changed to a no-contest after he failed a drugs test. He returned to the ring in April on the Jake Paul-Ben Askren undercard in Atlanta, when he beat Reykon, the reggaeton singer, whom he had been involved with an altercation with in a nightclub in Miami.
“I would’ve been more than happy to prove this point behind closed doors, I suggested a four-round spar in my Hayemaker Gym in London, which would have been more than enough to shut him up,” Haye said. “But for Fournier, the ‘Ric Flair’ of the boxing world, this would have done nothing for his ‘legacy’. Joe asked what it would cost to get me through the ropes one last time for an official fight, on a real stage. I told him it would have to be a package rivalling my last PPV blockbusters. A few calls with the lawyers, and here we are.
“Streaming powerhouse platform ‘Triller’ loved the idea of such a spectacle and presented me with an offer I simply could not turn down. An opportunity to prove a point to a friend, earning true pay-per-view money, whilst doing what I have always loved, simultaneously giving fans one last evening of nostalgia – who in their right mind would ever turn that opportunity down?
“This fight is the ultimate battle of egos, the outcome of some drunken bar banter. Now I have to teach some manners to a dear (but delusional) friend of mine Joe Fournier. A reminder to Joe that his best boxing achievement is being ranked No 10 in the world by the WBA whilst holding the WBA international belt at light-heavyweight, five years ago.”
Haye retired in 2018, after back-to-back defeats against Tony Bellew, but he says he has stayed in shape since then and exercises five times per week.
“Since retirement I have remained in the gym and I am always mindful of what I put in my body meaning with just four weeks’ notice, I am currently 10lbs lighter than my first fight against Tony Bellew some four years ago,” he said. “I’m looking forward to lacing up some 10oz gloves and ring walking at LA’s Staples Centre to ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’ to give a friend a brutal education in boxing.
“This is not a comeback, this is about teaching Joe Fournier there are levels to the boxing game. One must stay in their lane or risk getting flattened. Joe ‘The Billionaire’ Fournier needs to learn that certain things in life you can’t buy. Champions are born not bought.”
Fournier, 38, said he was expected to pull off a huge shock.
“I’m here to make a statement” Fourier said. “Like the business world, timing is everything in the fight game, I have immense respect for David’s past achievements, but his time has passed. I’m younger, fitter and faster. He may have been World heavyweight champion but that moment has gone, I am still learning the sport, coming into my prime.
“His demise will meet my rise and come September 11 the boxing world is in for a huge shock.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.