It’s official: after months of rumours and speculation, former heavyweight champion of the World, David Haye, is coming out of retirement to face top 10 WBA heavyweight contender Mark de Mori at The O2 on 16 January. After three-and-a-half years away from heavyweight boxing, the former unified cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champion is determined to win another world title. Here’s our list of the men he’ll likely have to face on his journey.
The self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ shocked the world by outpointing longtime champ Wladimir Klitschko to capture the WBA, WBO, IBF and Ring titles last month, and although an immediate rematch looks likely, an eventual showdown with Haye would be guaranteed box office gold. The pair have already been scheduled to fight twice, with Haye forced to withdraw on both occasions – prompting Fury to declare he’d rather vacate the belt than fight the former champ. But the lure of being part of what would surely be the biggest domestic fight in British boxing history (not to mention the enormous paycheck) would likely convince him otherwise.
Wilder holds the WBC heavyweight strap, and although casual fans might not be as familiar with him, the hard-hitting American’s all-action style would certainly make for an entertaining scrap. Capturing the only other recognised version of the world title would give Haye significant leverage when negotiating with the Fury-Klitschko rematch winner too.
Since his Olympic gold medal triumph at London 2012, Joshua has been gradually working his way up the heavyweight ranks, racking up a string of impressive knockout wins against lower level competition. But while a 2016 fight with the Hayemaker would generate huge interest domestically, it’d probably come too soon for the still relatively-inexperienced 26-year-old.
Fury may have ended the legendary Ukrainian’s 11-year unbeaten run, but a rematch with Haye – who he bested over 12 rounds in the in huge 2011 heavyweight unification fight – would be a guaranteed pay-per-view draw, giving the Englishman a chance to avenge his highest profile loss.
Widely regarded as the third best heavyweight in the world – with his sole defeat coming against Klitschko in 2013 – the dangerous Russian power puncher would certainly provide a legitimate test for Haye’s comeback credentials. But his lack of name recognition, or a world title, does make the prospect of the pair squaring off less likely.