Former heavyweight titleholder David Haye is injured again, forcing him to withdraw from his much-anticipated rematch with Tony Bellew on Monday, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced.
Haye and Bellew were due to square off again in an all-British showdown on Dec. 17 at the O2 Arena in London. However, Haye tore his left biceps training for the fight and had surgery to repair it on Monday.
Hearn said the "two teams will now work toward a new date for the rematch early in 2018, with news on that to come this week."
"I am devastated to announce my much-anticipated rematch against Tony Bellew has been postponed until March 24 or May 5, subject to scheduling," Haye said. "Despite the recent injury rumors, I was in perfect condition with an incredibly strong training camp, currently weighing lighter than I have for more than five years. I couldn't wait to get back in the ring. I was ready to rewrite the ending of the Haye-Bellew saga.
"Unfortunately, after a freak accident during a stair conditioning session, which I've done with no incident hundreds of times, I lost my footing, slipped, so instinctively grabbed the banister to stop myself toppling down the stairwell. In doing so I somehow managed to damage my bicep in the process. (Monday) afternoon I underwent a procedure to repair it. This was pretty straightforward and my doctor and physiotherapist have no doubt that not only will I make a full recovery but will be able to be back in the gym to start my arm rehabilitation in two weeks."
Bellew said he was deeply disappointed by the postponement.
"I'm gutted that the rematch with David has been postponed, both for myself but more for the fans," Bellew said. "I've had a tough camp with a lot going on in my life but was ready to repeat my win from March.
"I'll get over this disappointment over Christmas with my family and will be straight back into camp for a new date. It's a big disappointment but, as always, I leave my career in the hands of Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing who will get me back in there ASAP."
On March 4, Bellew, a reigning cruiserweight titleholder, moved up to heavyweight and pulled a major upset by stopping Haye in the 11th round, also at O2 Arena, of a dramatic fight between bitter rivals.
Haye (28-3, 26 KOs), 37, showed enormous heart by fighting from the sixth round on with a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KOs), 34, who broke his hand in the second or third round, scored knockdowns in the sixth and 11th rounds before Haye's trainer, Shane McGuigan, threw in the towel in the 11th round to stop the fight. Bellew was ahead 96-93 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
After the fight Haye, the former unified cruiserweight world champion, had surgery to repair his Achilles. The biceps injury, rumored for about the past 10 days, is another in a long list of injuries that have forced Haye to pull out of fights or postpone them through the years, including against then-heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Manuel Charr.
Since a one-sided decision loss to Klitschko in a heavyweight title unification fight in 2011 -- a fight that took place only after a Haye injury postponement -- Haye has fought just four times. He was out of the ring from mid-2012 until returning for a pair of early knockouts against walkover opponents in 2016 ahead of the fight against Bellew.
"I would like to apologize to Tony, his family and his training team, as well as all our fans who have been left disappointed," Haye said. "I've been solely focused on this fight and it's extremely frustrating that I couldn't finish 2017 with just my ring performance doing the talking. I look forward to getting back to training and into the ring in early 2018 with excitement and determination."
Hearn announced that the card has been postponed and that ticket holders should visit their point of purchase for a refund or exchange for any new date for the fight.