Paulie Malignaggi flew out to join Conor McGregor’s Las Vegas-based training camp on Wednesday the 19th of July and had his first chance to spar with the Irishman the following day. The New Yorker did not, however, share the ring with McGregor again before he departed for home a few days later.
Following that first sparring session, Malignaggi told Brett Okamoto that he had gotten in “eight rounds of good work” with McGregor and ensured the ESPN journalist that there was “method to Conor’s madness.”
During a subsequent interview with former UFC fighter and Showtime colleague Brendan Schaub, Malignaggi opened up a little further to answer a question that everybody had been wanting to ask.
“What do you wanna know if he hits hard? I mean, ya, he’s not a weak puncher. I’ll say that,” said the former IBF super-lightweight and WBA welterweight titlist. “Listen, if Conor hits you, you’re gonna feel it ok? He’s a grown man and I’d say he’s an above average puncher.
“Is it ‘oh my god’ power? No. I mean ‘oh my god’ power is very rare… But Conor has respectable power and if Conor hits you clean, and he’s wearing smaller gloves? Odds are he’s gonna get your attention or rock you or even drop you.”
Malignaggi expected to work with McGregor for a second time on the Saturday after his arrival, but ‘The Magic Man’ recently told FightHype that he had not been called upon for sparring duties – a fact that has made the 36-year-old wonder about his real role in the camp which he will rejoin early next week.
“The reality of it is, they called me to spar last week and I told them that I was going to have to leave this week for the [Adrien] Broner – [Mikey] Garcia fight so it was probably easier if they brought me in after Broner – Garcia,” said Malignaggi, who will serve as an analyst and colour commentator on the Showtime broadcast of the mouth-watering Broner – Garcia bout on Saturday. “But they said, ‘No’. They wanted me in that week. Turned out they only used me only one day. We sparred Thursday, we did not box again Saturday like we were supposed to.
Malignaggi lands a shot during his 2008 clash with Ricky Hatton.
“So, for me, I started thinking, did they bring me in to work? Or is the main reason they brought me in to create more of a buzz around the training camp, create more of a buzz around the fight? One hand washes the other so to speak, if you create more of a buzz around the training camp, you create more of a buzz around the fight. But we will see when I get back to camp on Monday. But I was literally brought in for one night last week and then Saturday I was not put on his boxing schedule.”
“I don’t if Conor did this thinking about [creating a buzz], because Conor is a marketing genius, I think sometimes he thinks about this kind of stuff.”
After a year-long saga that played out across every possible media platform and a four-city, three-country press tour that was unlike anything ever seen in the combat sports world, ‘The Notorious’ Dubliner’s upcoming bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. hardly needs to accumulate much more “buzz.” However, McGregor’s decision to hire Malignaggi as a sparring partner has certainly made some noise, mainly due to the fact that the recently retired Italian-American boxer had frequently trashed him in the media beforehand.
“Paulie talked a lot of shit,” McGregor told MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani after the Los Angeles leg of the aforementioned Mayweather – McGregor press tour. “Look he’s been brought in to spar and then he’ll answer to what he’s been saying and then we’ll go from there after that. But we’re gonna have a knock in the gym.”
If this is a promotional play, then it’s another good one from McGregor, but it’s also no harm having a boxer like Paulie, who mixed it with a host of truly elite fighters during his 16-year pro career and has one of the best analytical minds in boxing, around the camp for sparring and advice.