David Haye has been forced to postpone his grudge rematch with Tony Bellew after suffering a freak arm injury while tripping on stairs.

The pair had been due for a rerun on December 17 at the O2 after Bellew caused a huge upset in March, when Haye was stopped in the 11th round after rupturing his achilles tendon midway through the fight.

The 37-year-old damaged his bicep while grabbing a bannister during an steps exercise and has undergone a minor procedure to repair it. All parties are keen to reschedule the fight, with a provisional target set for March 24 or May 5.

Haye suffered a ruptured achilles in the sixth round of their first meeting at the O2 Arena

Bellew won the First fight that held in May

The regret for the Haye team is that he was said to be in excellent shape for a fight that he simply could not afford to lose if he is to resurrect his career. There were recent reports that he had suffered a recurrence of his achilles injury, but Haye’s camp quashed any suggestion of an issue.

Haye said: ‘I am devastated to announce my much-anticipated rematch against Tony Bellew has been postponed until March 24 or May 5, subject to scheduling. Despite the recent injury rumours, 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 bannister to stop myself toppling down the stairwell, and in doing so I somehow managed to damage my bicep in the process.

This afternoon I underwent a procedure to repair it, which 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.

‘I would like to apologise to Tony, his family and his training team, as well as all our fans who have been left disappointed. I’ve been solely focussed 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.’

Bellew said: ‘I’m gutted that the rematch with David has been postponed, both for myself but more for the fans. 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.’

Haye has been plagued by injury problems throughout his career and less than a month away from his scheduled return to the ring, the 37-year-old has suffered another fitness setback. Bellew responded to the news by posting a disappointed emoji on Twitter, while his trainer David Coldwell said he was ‘absolutely devastated’.

Haye was handed only the third defeat of his career when he was stopped in the penultimate round of their first fight in March.

Having failed to knockout Bellew early, as had been his pre-fight prediction, the ‘Hayemaker’ ruptured his achilles in the sixth round. The injury left him barely able to walk and swung the fight in the underdog’s favour.

Haye showed immense bravery to fight on until he was knocked from the ring and the fight was waved off by referee Phil Edwards. He was eventually granted the chance at revenge by Bellew, who had warned before their first meeting that Haye’s body would betray him.

The London fighter underwent surgery to his gruesome foot injury before and he could now face going back under the knife to treat his latest fitness problem.

It has been confirmed that Bellew will no longer fight on December 17. He had said last week, amid recent reports that Haye was injured, that he would fight WBO champion Joseph Parker ‘no problem’.

But on Monday he wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m sorry is all I can say! I was ready to go ahead with this fight regardless of my team’s wishes but I always show up and get in and give it everything. I will sit down with @eddiehearn soon and will now use this time wisely with my family and get over the loss of our brother.’

Bellew’s brother-in-law Ashley Roberts recently died while on a family holiday in Cancun where he was celebrating a friend’s wedding.

Parker, for his part, responded to Bellew’s recent comments by telling Sportsmail he would welcome a fight with the former WBC cruiserweight world champion– should he fail to agree to fight with Anthony Joshua.

Former unified heavyweight champion Fury, meanwhile, has responded to the news by claiming he is ‘ready’ to fight Bellew in May.

All tickets bought for the December 17 bout will be valid for the future date. Fans who require a refund can should visit their point of purchase.

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