London (AFP) - Britain's former world heavyweight and cruiserweight champion David Haye announced his retirement on Tuesday following two successive defeats to fellow Englishman Tony Bellew.
The 37-year-old -- who won 28 of his 32 bouts including 26 knock outs -- unified the cruiserweight world division then was crowned world heavyweight champion in defeating the 'Beast from The East' Russia's Nikolay Valuev in 2009.
However, Ukrainian great Wladimir Klitschko took the WBA belt off him -- after Haye had successfully defended the title twice -- in July 2011.
Haye implied he was retiring after that defeat and on several occasions prior to that had pledged to leave the sport before he was 31 declaring 'That'll be 20 years of getting punched in the face, which is a long enough time.'
Nevertheless, he kept on hoping for a title fight with Klitschko's brother, WBC champion Vitali, but ruined any hope of one with his set-to with Dereck Chisora at the press conference after the latter had lost to the Ukrainian in 2012.
His career never reached the heights again and two resounding defeats by Bellew -- the second one coming last month -- convinced him it is time to hang up his gloves.
"I announce my retirement from professional boxing," said Haye in a statement.
"They say you can't play boxing. Yet, as I write this retirement statement, and reflect on my time in the sport, I can't find a better way to describe the ride."
Haye -- known as 'The Hayemaker' -- said his career had been one of two halves.
"In the first eight years, everything ran smoothly," said Haye, who never really captured the British public's imagination like Frank Bruno or Lennox Lewis did.
"I had 25 fights and became the first ever British boxer to unify the cruiserweight division (WBA, WBC and WBO World Championships).
"I then achieved my childhood dream when I beat WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World Nikolay Valuev, the seven-foot-two, 150-kilogram 'Beast from the East', in a real life 'David and Goliath' match."
For Haye that victory meant he had completed a very personal journey successfully.
"Lifting that World Heavyweight Championship meant I'd fulfilled a promise I’d made to my mum, Jane, at the age of three," he said.
"It also meant I was the second boxer in history –- after Evander Holyfield –- to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight. That was an incredibly proud moment for me and my family and friends."