Conor McGregor’s sparring partner abruptly resigned from his role after an especially “violent” session in the ring with the Irishman.
Paulie Malignaggi, who won alphabet-soup titles at two weight classes and owns wins over Zab Judah, Juan Diaz, and Vyacheslav Senchenko, sparred with the UFC lightweight champion on Tuesday. In this, their second sparring session of the camp, Malignaggi and McGregor battled for 12 intense rounds that the Brooklynite labeled “violent.” His marked face seconded his mouth’s opinion.
But Malignaggi bolted not over the intensity but what he sees as the McGregor camp’s dishonesty.
Malignaggi objected to sparring so soon after a cross-country flight and appeared weirded out by the presence of an audience in the Las Vegas gym. But his primary issue with McGregor’s camp involves pictures posted online that show McGregor getting the better of Malignaggi in the sparring. The boxer admits that he faded in the championship rounds of the meaningless session that suddenly mattered. But he says a picture appearing to show a knockdown in fact shows the aftermath of a pushdown.
A UFC photographer and McGregor camp followers posted unflattering pictures of Malignaggi online:
Malignaggi’s earlier criticism of McGregor led to King Conor’s enmity, which, apparently, did not dissipate despite Malignaggi stepping out of retirement and his role in the Showtime booth to help a mixed-martial artist taking on Showtime Boxing’s biggest cash cow. Despite looking and sounding like he just walked off the set of The Jersey Shore, the Bensonhurst-born boxer fights a lot like Floyd Mayweather. Both orthodox boxers stand the same height and weigh the same amount, with Mayweather’s reach extending slightly longer. More importantly, Mayweather and Malignaggi use defense as their offense. Both slick, hard-to-hit boxers employ the sweet science to frustrate brawling opponents.
While finding another made-to-order Mayweather knockoff may prove difficult on short notice (Adrien Broner likes money and Conor’s got money), the competitiveness of the sparring session speaks well of McGregor. Even if he did not knock down Malignaggi or get the better of him, he went 12 rounds with a world-class boxer in a sparring session that sounds more like a live fight.
Sure, Malignaggi fought as a pillow-punching poor man’s Mayweather. But he shared rings with Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan and other greats of his era. He was, and probably still is at just 36, an amazing defensive boxer (the best white “black boxer” of his era just as former foe Ricky Hatton competed as the best white “Mexican fighter” of their era).
McGregor should not be able to last 12 rounds with Malignaggi. The fact that, at least by some accounts (albeit biased ones), McGregor bested the former 140- and 147-pound boxing titlist in the session does not mean he stands much of a chance against Floyd Mayweather. It does indicate that we should not dismiss McGregor’s boxing as that of a normal 0-0 neophyte.
Paulie Malignaggi is no joke. Neither is the guy who holds his own against him.