David Haye ring 1 (Getty)David Haye ring 1 (Getty) © Copyright

David Haye: Horny, hungry and dangerous

After dismantling unbeaten heavyweight Arnold Gjergjaj at the O2, David Haye looks set for a showdown with Shannon Briggs. We met up with the Hayemaker to talk about his return to boxing, his animal instincts in and out of the ring, and his Hollywood dreams

Do you think Joshua has maybe filled the hole you left as a likeable British fighter?

Yeah, sure. No doubt about it. When I was there, I had, and still have, a big fan base. People are still fans of mine but they weren’t going month in, month out to support me because I wasn’t fighting. They might watch me on Family Fortunes or other celebrity TV shows, but they’d stopped seeing me as an active boxer and started seeing me mainly as a retired boxer. Retired boxer slash celebrity.

So when someone like Anthony Joshua wins the Olympics, he looks fantastic, he’s in great shape, he’s very likeable. I can understand people who supported me are now supporting him, but it’s come to a bit of a crossroads now that I’m back. I can’t remember a time when that’s ever happened. Two guys everybody wants to see win. It’s a nice vibe, and I believe I’ve got the experience on him. I still feel like there’s work to be done and I feel I’m improving. I’ve got a new coach, Shane McGuigan, I’ve got a new team around me, and I’ve got a whole new promotional outfit.

What is the best thing about this whole process of coming back?

It is the debate among the fans. When I was out of the ring, a few people would say, “If David came back, he’d beat this guy.” They were like, “Well, he’s retired. He’s out. He’s injured so don’t even mention his name anymore, we’ve got to look at the new guys.” Now that I’m back, these guys who were saying that before are like, “No, he’s back. He fought this guy and knocked him out, he’s back. He can do it. He’s still got what he used to have.”

That gives you a real sense of…

That gives me a buzz. I’m walking down the street and people are like, “I’m so glad you’re back. I reckon you can beat this kid Joshua. He’s too stiff, you’re too fast for him.” It’s just nice to get people excited once again in the heavyweight division.

What’s been the single toughest thing about coming back?

Probably just getting my body back into peak condition after the operation that I had. A lot of doctors said, “Your shoulder won’t be the same again. You won’t punch as hard, if you can punch at all.” When you’re hearing that, you’re thinking, “Does this doctor know what he’s talking about?” I’m not a regular person. I’ve never considered myself a normal human being. They said, “After this surgery, you won’t be able to do this… you can’t start punching or anything for a year or two years,” whatever it was. I’m like, “OK. I’m not normal.” I don’t put myself in the same boundaries as the average guy so whatever advice they gave me, I slashed the recovery time in half.

We’ve heard that you abstain from sex in the weeks leading up to a fight. Is that true?

It’s not sex, it’s the ejaculation process. I stop the ejaculation process six weeks before a fight. I believe it’s a mental and physical edge I have over my opponent. It’s doing something that I don’t believe they’ll do. It’s not a natural thing for a man not to come for six weeks: just generally not natural. I’ve done it since I was 15 years old. I don’t know why, or where it started from.

How else do you prepare for a big fight?

I normally fight around 10 or 10.30pm. I’ll eat a very small meal with some carbs at about 6pm, so my stomach will be grumbling when I’m walking to the ring. The reason for that is, when is a tiger most dangerous? It’s when a tiger is hungry and horny. I’ll eat a very small meal with some carbs a few hours before the fight, so my stomach will be grumbling when I’m walking to the ring. Go into the jungle with a lion who hasn’t had a shag and hasn’t eaten for a few days and you’ll be ripped to shreds. Yet, go back to that same lion after he’s eaten a small antelope and he’s just shot his bolt. You could walk up to him and flick him on his nose and he wouldn’t move. He’d be zonked out.

Give a guy a big pasta meal, a big bowl of pasta, and get him to bang a chick twice, and then see how much energy he’s got to have a fight. It’s the last thing on your mind. All you want to do is sleep and recover. You get the old carb sweats and that’s it. My mentality is you need to get in the ring horny and hungry, and you’re a dangerous force. Have you watched me in the ring?