LONDON - Former world heavyweight champion David Haye said Sunday he was contemplating retirement on medical grounds after revealing he has a severe shoulder injury.

The London boxer has pulled out of a rescheduled February 8 bout with British rival Tyson Fury and now looks set to call time on his career after an operation last week failed to rectify his shoulder problem. "It's a crushing blow for me," he said in a statement issued by his Hayemaker Promotions company.  "I had big plans for next year and the ultimate goal was to win back the world heavyweight title, something my amazing fans deserve.

"What I didn't anticipate was that this year would be the unluckiest of my career and that a number of injuries would disrupt my plans so much. "Perhaps it just wasn't meant to be. The boxing gods keep hinting that maybe enough is enough and that it's time to finally hang up my gloves." The 33-year-old former World Boxing Association (WBA) champion underwent a five-hour operation to reconstruct his right shoulder in Germany on Thursday but has since been told to "seriously consider" retirement. "I genuinely believed the shoulder injury wasn't that bad," Haye insisted. "But the doctor sent me for a detailed MRI scan and within 24 hours I was told the full extent of the damage.”

 Twenty-four hours after that I was in the operating theatre. "The surgery and subsequent results are a bitter pill to swallow because I truly felt I had a lot more to offer and was looking forward to paying back my loyal fans with some great fights in 2014.

"But I've been boxing for 23 years now, amateur and pro, and this has clearly taken its toll on my body. "I can only offer my sincerest apologies to all those fans who have followed me over the years and, like me, wanted to finish on a real high. "This wasn't how I wanted to end 2013.

"If I'm now destined to have won the European championship, the unified world cruiserweight championship and the WBA heavyweight championship of the world -- with a record of 28 fights, 26 wins, 24 victories coming via knockout and only two defeats -- then so be it. "I'm proud of these achievements and consider my boxing career a huge success." If Haye is indeed to retire that will mean his last bout was a domestic fifth-round stoppage of Dereck Chisora last year.

Hayes started his professional career as a cruiserweight and was unbeaten until dropping his guard against veteran Carl Thompson in a fight he had been winning in 2004. But he overcame that setback to go on to claim the European cruiserweight title before also taking the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and WBA belts ahead of the step-up to heavyweight. As a heavyweight, he won the WBA title with a stoppage of giant champion Nikolai Valuev in Germany in 2009. But then came a one-sided points loss to modern heavyweight master Wladimir Klitschko two years ago. Recently, Haye was best known for an out-of-the ring brawl with Chisora that led to last year's bout.