On this day in 2009: David Haye becomes a heavyweight world champion

David Haye became the WBA heavyweight champion with victory over Russia’s Nikolai Valuev on this day in 2009.

Haye won by a majority points decision in Nuremberg, winning the fight on two judges’ scorecards, with the other scoring it even.

The 29-year-old took the win despite giving away a massive seven stone to the 7ft ‘Beast from the East’, who had gained the WBA title for a second time with victory over John Ruiz a little over a year earlier.

Boxing – WBA World Heavyweight Title – Nikolai Valuev v David Haye – Nuremberg Arena
David Haye’s superior speed eventually told against the 36-year-old Nikolai Valuev (Nick Potts/PA)

But at 36 Valuev was slowing down, and Haye’s superior speed showed as he became the first Briton to hold a world heavyweight crown since Lennox Lewis retired in 2003.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Haye, who followed Evander Holyfield to become only the second former cruiserweight king to win a portion of the heavyweight crown.

“From when I was a baby, I said I would be the heavyweight world champion.

“I’ve fought the biggest heavyweight champion and caught him with big shots.

“I made him look like an amateur. People doubted my skills, but I did enough to win.”

Remarkably, Haye managed to delight a sizeable British contingent in a 10,000 crowd at the Nuremberg Arena with a suspected broken right hand, which trainer Adam Booth said gave way in the third round.

Boxing – WBA World Heavyweight Title – Nikolai Valuev v David Haye – Nuremberg Arena
David Haye gave up seven stone to the ‘Beast of the East’ (Nick Potts/PA)

Haye was appearing to tire in the seventh round, but he came storming back in the eighth.

He hurt Valuev with a rigid jab before landing with a rasping right to the body and almost floored his opponent with yet another vicious left-right combination in the final stanza.

Haye, who was awarded the fight 116-112, 116-112, 114-114, became only the third Briton to win a world heavyweight title since Bob Fitzsimmons lost his crown to James J Jeffries in 1899.

He promised to “clean up the division” but, after making successful WBA title defences against John Ruiz and Audley Harrison, lost a unanimous points decision to Wladimir Klitchsko in their unification showdown in July 2011.

Haye knocked out bitter foe Derek Chisora in his next fight in 2012, but inactivity, injuries and two defeats to Tony Bellew saw his career wind down slowly.

At the age of 40, Haye returned to the ring in September following a three-year absence. He beat Joe Fournier on points in an eight-round exhibition – and immediately called out British heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury.