David Haye has hung up his boxing gloves in favor of becoming a brand-new poker face, as the former World Heavyweight champion seeks to start a new career as a professional poker player.
After a second-round defeat in a rematch with an old British foe, David Bellew, Haye opted to call it a day in the ring and has since taken to cards as a way of maintaining his competitive edge.
Somewhat bizarrely, Haye recently teamed up with former British boxing rival, Audley Harriso, who taught the Londoner all he knew about poker in a 48-hour marathon “bootcamp.”
Haye and Harrison came face-to-face in the Philippines, where Harrison spent two days subjecting the “Hayemaker” to an intense poker school in south-east Asia. What’s this all in aid of, we hear you ask. Well, Haye has decided to try and play poker professionally, and his first foray into the world of poker was to enter the Goliath Poker Tournament in Coventry. The tournament, which recorded over 9,000 registered players, became the largest annual live poker tournament on the planet – surpassing the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event staged in Las Vegas.
Just 12 months ago, Haye admitted that he had “never played a hand of poker” in his life. Fortunately, Harrison was prepared to sit him down and “uncover a world he never knew existed.” Haye said that Harrison spent time explaining his thought process regarding every hand of poker they played out in the Philippines; something which Haye insisted was “the biggest step” for his poker development.
Haye admitted that while some of his poker play can sometimes be a “six out of ten,” there are still times when he plays like a novice. Although mastering the basic rules of poker can be achieved in a matter of minutes, there are many nuances to poker strategy that Haye will need to master if he wishes to become a poker pro and make money consistently at the tables.
There’s no doubt that Harrison has some impressive poker teaching skills when you consider Haye’s performance at the Goliath tournament. The 38-year-old defied the odds to finish well inside the money, eventually securing a 40th place finish and earning massive respect among the poker community. At one point, Haye was even in the top five of the tournament leader board, boasting a chip count of well over five million. Experiencing the highs and lows of tournament game appears to be something that Haye has relished, inspiring him to go forward and continue to play cards with the best in the business.
No love lost in the past between Haye and Harrison
The new-found mutual friendship between David Haye and Audley Harrison is somewhat eyebrow-raising when you consider the pair were at loggerheads regarding one of British boxing’s most controversial fights of this decade. In 2010, Haye floored Harrison with a third-round knockout, with Harrison having failed to throw a single punch in almost nine minutes inside the ring.
In the build-up to his fight with Harrison, Haye declared that his preparations were “fuelled by hate.” Meanwhile Harrison admitted that Haye had “done him wrong” by coming through and usurping the former European and Olympic champ.
Following eight months of non-stop trash talking between the two, Haye – then the WBA heavyweight champion – took less than nine minutes to leave Harrison on the floor, who looked shell-shocked throughout and frightened to attack his opponent in fear of his “Hayemaker.”
The pre-fight billing had this down as potentially one of the best all-British heavyweight boxing duels in decades, but the reality was that fans were left calling it a farce as they left Manchester’s MEN Arena.
Some eight years later, there appeared to be some form of mutual respect developing between one another. After Haye’s second defeat to Tony Bellew, which had been somewhat bad-tempered in the build-up to the fight, Harrison tweeted that Haye could be “proud that he came back to see what he had left” in the tank. It seems that years apart have seen the rivalry mellow, leading to Haye and Harrison rekindling their old friendship over a Filipino poker table.
What is Audley Harrison doing with his boxing retirement?
Audley Harrison is now 46 years old and retired from boxing back in 2013. His final bout was against none other than Deontay Wilder, who took just over a minute to knock Harrison out. Harrison hinted at retirement following that loss and was eventually true to his word.
Harrison admitted that he was still suffering from the effects of head injuries some two years after his last fight with Wilder. Harrison cited impaired vision and balance issues, as well as changing moods and irritability, all of which may have been caused by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Despite his brain issues, Harrison has since remained in the media spotlight having agreed to appear on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show, as well as Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother which saw him finish runner-up in the 2014 summer edition.
Nevertheless, last year, Harrison proved that he still has an undying love for boxing by stating his plan to become a boxing trainer and manager. In a tweet last November, Harrison said that if he were to become a trainer he would also have to manage his protégé, simply because he didn’t want a manager selecting “the wrong opponent for him/her,” which would leave him “in a bad spot.” Does that suggest Audley had been in a similar situation during his own boxing career? Quite possibly.