Former heavyweight titleholder David Haye suffered a gash over his left eye during his final sparring session, forcing him to postpone an all-British showdown with fellow contender Tyson Fury on Saturday.
Haye and Fury were due to meet Sept. 28 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England in a highly significant nontitle fight.
According Hayemaker Promotions, Haye's company, the cut over Haye's left eyebrow occurred during the second round of sparring on Friday night and required six stitches, which will remain in place for five to seven days. Unsure how long Haye will be sidelined, there is no time frame for the fight to be rescheduled -- or even if it will be rescheduled.
"Gutted isn't even the word," Haye said. "Mentally, I'm on the floor at the moment. I'm devastated most of all for my loyal fans, my family and my team, as well as Tyson Fury and his team.
"I know injuries and cuts are part and parcel of our sport, but this doesn't change the feeling of disappointment and sadness I'm experiencing right now. To everyone who has bought tickets, booked hotels, and followed this fight since it was announced, there is absolutely nothing I can do except apologize from the very bottom of my heart. Even when everything seems to be right on track, sometimes life throws you a curveball. I will somehow have to try and make the best of this horrible situation. But, right now, I'm in bits about what has happened."
The 6-foot-9, 254-pound Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) has talked trash with the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Haye, also a former cruiserweight champion, since before the fight was even made.
Fury took to Twitter on Saturday to express his disappointment about the fight bout being postponed.
Sorry for every1 who bought tickets & hotels. Haye excuses r boring. He don't want to fight me!
— Tyson Fury (@Tyson_Fury) September 21, 2013
The bout was due to be televised in the United States on an unprecedented HBO split-site tripleheader that was to begin with same-day taped coverage of Haye-Fury before going live for light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson's first title defense against former titleholder Tavoris Cloud at the Bell Centre in Montreal followed by former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s first fight in a year, a super middleweight clash with Brian Vera from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Now, the show will be a doubleheader.
Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) won a version of the heavyweight title in 2009 by outpointing 7-footer Nikolai Valuev in Germany and went on to make two defenses, against former titleholder John Ruiz and countryman Audley Harrison. But then Haye faced champion Wladimir Klitschko in a July 2011 unification fight and was routed in an uncompetitive decision loss, which Haye blamed on an injured pinkie toe.
Haye has fought just once since the Klitschko fight, a fifth-round knockout of British countryman Dereck Chisora last July.
This is the second fight in a row Haye has pulled out of because of an injury. He was scheduled to face Manuel Charr on June 29 in Manchester but withdrew from the bout, claiming a left hand injury. The fight was not rescheduled because he instead made a deal to face Fury.
Fury, who won a decision against former world title challenger Chisora in 2011, made his American debut in his last fight, stopping Philadelphia's Steve Cunningham, a former cruiserweight titlist, in the seventh round in New York on April 20, although Cunningham dropped Fury in the second round and nearly knocked him out.