LONDON (AP) — Former heavyweight champion David Haye retired Thursday, ending a nine-year career in which he won world titles at two different weights and fulfilling a promise to quit on his 31st birthday
After failing to line up another fight with either of the Klitschko brothers, the former world cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champ said he was leaving the sport to take up acting.
"As the clock struck 12 last night, my professional boxing career came to an end," said the British fighter. "It has been my intention to retire from the sport of boxing on this particular day ever since I first laced up a pair of gloves as a skinny 10-year old."
Haye's last fight was a loss on points in July to Wladimir Klitschko, the younger of the Ukrainian siblings who added Haye's WBA title to his own WBO and IBF belts.
Since then, Haye and his promoter Adam Booth have tried to entice the Klitschkos, particularly elder brother and WBC champ Vitali, into the ring but to no avail.
Haye denied his retirement announcement was just an attempt to lure the Ukrainians to fight him.
"They've had three months do it," he said. "They talk like they want it but they don't. I'd love nothing better than to knock Vitali out. But from what Adam told me, they believe I'm just another challenger to them."
Speaking at his gym in south London, Haye, who won 25 of his 27 fights as a professional, said capturing world titles in two weights marks him out as "one of the best British boxers ever."
"He'll be remembered as a dominant cruiserweight, one of the best cruiserweights there's been along with Evander Holyfield," Booth said.
Haye started off as a cruiserweight and beat Jean-Marc Mormeck in Paris in 2007 to land the WBC title. He rates that victory as the biggest achievement in his career.
Moving up to heavyweight, he fought against bigger, stronger opponents but beat Russia's 7-foot-2 Nikolay Valuev in November 2009 to win the WBA title. He successfully defended it against John Ruiz of the United States and fellow Briton Audley Harrison before losing to Klitschko in Hamburg.
After leaving a heavyweight division he claims is now "back in the doldrums," Haye said he plans to launch an acting career next year.
"I fell just short of fulfilling my ultimate dream as a heavyweight (of unifying the division) but I am still satisfied with what I was able to bring to a division that was desperately in need of an injection of excitement," Haye said.