David Haye
David Haye is targeting a return to the ring in late 2017 Reuters

Veteran British boxer David Haye believes his return to action will come far sooner than people expect. The former undisputed cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champion last fought in March, when he badly damaged his achilles tendon during a shock and bizarre 11th-round defeat to domestic rival Tony Bellew at London's O2 Arena.

Haye underwent surgery in the aftermath of his third professional defeat and, despite the 36-year-old's defiant claims to the contrary, many questioned if he would now be forced to permanently retire having previously gone three-and-a-half years without fighting between 2012-2016 due to serious shoulder problems.

A rapidly recovering Haye shed his protective boot last week and the Londoner now finds himself on holiday in the Far East, where he is testing himself by walking along the Great Wall of China – a decision that led trainer Shane McGuigan to affectionately label him as a "mad man".

Updating fans on his progress via a social media post sent on Wednesday (10 May), Haye claimed he was "not an average athlete" and would be back in the ring much faster than others first thought.

"I wanted to come and test myself," he said. "It's been a week since I've been out of the boot and I'm feeling good, no pain. I'm going to make a full recovery and I'm going to be fighting way quicker than people anticipate. I'm not an average athlete, believe me. I can do things others can only dream of."

"The Hayemaker" revealed over the weekend that he hoped to fight again by December and a rematch against Bellew is presumably still top of his agenda. However, the Evertonian could be set for a shot at the WBC heavyweight title after clashing with undefeated American Deontay Wilder before Anthony Joshua's stunning unification victory over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium.

Bellew, who suffered a broken right hand in his showdown with Haye, recently claimed to be the "the second most valuable heavyweight in the world" after Joshua and confirmed he would be interested in a potential meeting with Joseph Parker following the New Zealander's unconvincing defence of his WBO belt against little-known replacement opponent Razvan Cojanu.

However, the WBO insist that Tyson Fury's cousin Hughie, who was initially due to face Parker in Auckland only to be ruled out by a back injury, remains the mandatory challenger and must get his chance within 120 days.

Twitter/@mrdavidhaye