Jimi Manuwa reveals he was in talks for a boxing match against David Haye, with UFC chief Dana White on board with the idea

Manuwa, who fights Thaigo Santos at UFC 231  on Saturday, in Canada, revealed to SunSport that he was close to securing a fight with Haye in the boxing ring.

The fight was even discussed with UFC chief White and Haye in a conference call, with the O2 Arena in London the targeted venue.

Manuwa said: “I was really close to fighting David Haye, he wanted the fight, I wanted the fight and I actually had a meeting with Dana White about the fight.

“We had David haye on a conference call and we were talking dates, and other things.

“He’s a big name who kind of gets under my skin when I hear him talk, and when I hear his demina, when he thinks he knows it all.

“He kind of gets under my skin, but at the same time I wanted to test my boxing skills. I thought it would have been a massive fight for the MMA and boxing crossover.”

However, Haye would lose to rival Tony Bellew in March 2017, while Manuwa suffered a defeat to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214 in the July.

Haye would then opt for a rematch against Bellew a year later, leaving Manuwa disappointed that he could not fight the former world heavyweight champion – in what would have been the UFC star's boxing debut.

Manuwa said: “I had my Ozdemir fight, and David Haye had his Tony Bellew fight – we both lost and then the whole fight lost momentum after that.

“Then David Haye retired, which was a bummer as I was quite looking forward to putting him on his a**.

“It was personal, but at the same time I wanted to test my boxing skills in the ring.

“I’d love to (have a boxing match) but I think David Haye was the perfect subject for it, I don’t think there is any other big name crossover opponent that I could do it with.

“At the moment I can’t really see any other person that would be up for it.”

Manuwa did not having a single amateur bout in either boxing or MMA before he turned professional in the cage back in 2008, at age 28.

However, the 38-year-old revealed that he is good friends with current heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte – and the pair used to train and spar together.

Manuwa added: “We’ve got mutual friends and we were both in the fighting industry.

“He was a kickboxer before, so I used to go to his early fights when I first started as I always like the striking element of the game.

“When he crossed over to boxing I used to train with him sometimes, he helped me out a lot with my boxing and my hands, so it happened naturally.”

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