David Haye sets sights on Tyson Fury but how likely is a heavyweight showdown?

David Haye marked his return to the ring following a three-year absence with a points win over his friend Joe Fournier in an eight-round exhibition at the weekend and immediately set his sights on fellow Briton Tyson Fury.

On the undercard of Evander Holyfield-Vitor Belfort in Florida, Haye was unable to make good on his promise to knock out the more inexperienced Fournier but did enough to get a 79-72, 79-72 and 80-71 victory.

After calling out Fury, the PA news agency looks at Haye’s comeback and whether he is a credible threat to the current WBC heavyweight champion.

So the Hayemaker’s back?

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A pair of defeats to bitter rival Tony Bellew and lingering injury issues led to Haye ending his professional career in June 2018. But he was lured back into the ring following a boozy night out in Mykonos, where a disagreement broke out between Haye and Fournier about who would win if they were to fight. Haye, 40, proved there are levels to this game, the former cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion comfortably outboxing someone more widely known for his business acumen. Haye initially insisted he had no intention to make an actual, traditional return but said on Saturday: “There’s one fighter I’d come back to professional boxing for. That’s Tyson Fury.”

Pardon?

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A couple of fights between the pair in 2013, after Haye had been dethroned as heavyweight champion and before Fury had properly cemented his reputation as a world-level fighter, were slated. However, a deep gash and a shoulder injury nixed both contests, much to Fury’s chagrin. Eight years on and the heavyweight landscape is very different with Fury regarded as the best fighter in the division. Haye’s proclamation of “I know his kryptonite, I know what he can’t handle” seems outlandish but – as we saw on Saturday, with former United States president Donald Trump acting as a commentator at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino – stranger things have happened in boxing.

How viable is it?

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Not very. Fury’s interest may be piqued by the remarks but he is yet to publicly respond and his commitments lie elsewhere. First up is a trilogy clash against Deontay Wilder next month, put back from July after Fury tested positive for Covid-19. Fury himself anticipates taking on Dillian Whyte this winter then Anthony Joshua twice next year. Any attempt to shoehorn in Haye ahead of Joshua, in particular, would be poorly received by supporters, especially after a bout between the pair which seemed so close to be finalised earlier this year collapsed.

So Haye will stay retired, then?

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If Fury is the only fighter that he wants to take on then it seems his professional career remains over. But that does not necessarily mean we have seen the last of Haye in the ring. He himself admitted in announcing his showdown against Fournier that he was well remunerated and, while hardened followers of the sport may lament fighters from yesteryear returning, there is clearly a market for it. Mike Tyson’s eight-rounder against Roy Jones Jr grossed 80 million US dollars in pay-per-view buys alone, with 1.6million subscribers the highest for a boxing event in 2020.