David Haye does not know what his future holds after insisting he has “put heavyweight boxing back on the map” despite his one-sided defeat by Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg.
In what Klitschko claimed was “a victory for boxing” after some of Haye’s distasteful pre-fight trash talk, the Ukrainian enjoyed a resounding points victory at a soaking Imtech Arena to add Haye’s WBA title to his own IBF and WBO belts.
Haye cited a broken toe for his uninspiring performance - showing the swollen digit to Klitschko and media in the post-fight press conference - but admits even taking that into account it is difficult to see where he goes now.
The Londoner had planned to retire in October after one more fight. Klitschko is not keen on a rematch and Haye hardly demanded one. The other Klitschko brother, Vitali, has a fight with Tomasz Adamek in September.
Crucially, Haye has no bargaining power with the Klitschkos because he has no title and is coming off a second career defeat and there is nobody else of real interest for him to fight instead.
“Listen, will he want to give me a rematch when I’m 100% fit? I don’t know,” Haye said. “If not, then I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’d love him to give me a rematch.
“He said he can knock me out and I’d love him to give it a go. If he couldn’t knock me out on one leg, pretty much, then how about when I’m fit?
“I think it would be interesting. I think I hurt him more than he hurt me but that’s boxing. I’d love to knock him out but it wasn’t happening in there for me, unfortunately.”
As for his deadline of hanging up the gloves on October 13 - his 31st birthday - Haye hinted for the first time he could fight on.
“I’m not making any decisions yet on retirement,” he said.
As a fight which had revived interest in the flagging heavyweight division the event was hugely disappointing. The tactical battle and nuances were interesting but the travelling fans and huge mainstream television audience will have been left cold by the scrap.
“I’m gutted I wasn’t able to do what I needed to do out there (because of the injury),” Haye said.
“I feel we’ve put heavyweight boxing back on the map because this fight got so many people excited.
“Wladimir’s had more than 50 fights and this is the first one to have reached out to everybody and I think I played my part in that. Postponing was not an option. I pulled out of a fight with Wladimir two years ago and doing it again was not an option.
“No matter what happened in training I couldn’t pull out. I genuinely believed I could win the fight.”