David Haye has warned that opponent Joe Fournier will “get annihilated” but admits he has been “riddled with injuries” ahead of his return to the ring this weekend.
The former world heavyweight champion will end a three-year absence from boxing when he faces Fournier in Florida on Saturday.
Haye agreed to the fight after a raucous dispute during a recent holiday with Fournier but insists he tried to talk his former sparring partner out of the bout.
The two-weight title holder has revealed to Sky Sports how Fournier had told him: “‘If we were to fight right now, I would win.’
“I was like, ‘I’ll tell you what, when we get back to London, come down the gym. Put some 18oz gloves on, a head guard. If you can last four rounds, I’ll be amazed.
“‘But I guarantee after two rounds, you would say that’s enough. You won’t be able to carry on.’
“He said ‘forget that, if you’re really that confident, why don’t we do it for real?’
“I said ‘you’ll get annihilated with 10oz gloves on. No way.’
“He said ‘no, no, no. Let’s do it!'”
Haye had announced his retirement following a fifth-round stoppage loss to Tony Bellew in their rematch at The O2 in May 2018.
In their first fight, Haye had ruptured his Achilles tendon in an 11th round knockout loss to Bellew in March 2017, and he is concerned that the Fournier fight could put fresh strain on his brittle body.
“I’m taking this seriously as someone who is 40-years of age and riddled with injuries needs to take it,” said Haye.
“If I don’t take it seriously, and I don’t 100 per cent focus on training – I snapped an Achilles tendon two fights ago. I didn’t look that clever in the fight after that as well, so I don’t want that to happen.
“He [Fournier] thinks if he can get past the first four rounds. He knows I’m dangerous for the first couple of rounds, in his words.
“But if he can get me in those later rounds, his youth [will be a factor] and just the fact he hasn’t been injured, the fact he has been training consistently and sparring.”
Fournier has won all of his previous fights by stoppage, although his last bout was against a musician making his pro debut on the same bill as YouTuber-turned boxer Jake Paul.
“He actually knows me quite well, because we used to spar together a lot,” said Haye.He boxed on my undercard when I first came back in 2016. He was one of my sparring partners back then.He knows what I’m like. Obviously I wasn’t going full out on him when we used to spar.
He must have taken some confidence from that. “He said that back then he thought I would hit harder than I did.
“Okay, okay, so we’ll find out on September 11 if I’ve still got enough to beat Joe Fournier.”
Haye has suggested the Fournier fight will be “pretty brutal, pretty fast,” and has explained why he wants a ruthless victory.
“I don’t want to give any unnecessary additional reasons why it could go pear shaped and every round that goes by, is one round closer to something snapping on my body,” said Haye.
“Whether my shoulder dislocates, my Achilles tendon snaps, knee pops. The quicker I get it over and done with, the better, for everybody.
“He’s a decent boxer himself, he was ranked in the top 10 by the WBA. He’s not like some guy out of a pub somewhere.
“He was ranked by the WBA, so if he’s good enough there, let’s do it.”
Sky Sports Boxing schedule
Oscar Valdez vs Robson Conceicao – WBC super-featherweight title
September 25 – Sky Sports Box Office
Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk – IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight titles
Lawrence Okolie vs Dilan Prasovic – WBO cruiserweight title
Chris Eubank Jr vs Sven Elbir
David Avanesyan vs Liam Taylor – European welterweight title
Richard Riakpohre vs Krzysztof Twardowski
Mikael Lawal vs Steven Ward
Savannah Marshall vs Lolita Muzeya – WBO middleweight title
Hughie Fury vs Christian Hammer
Jamel Herring vs Shakur Stevenson – WBO super-featherweight title
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight title