It’s been a busy few weeks for ‘Magic Man’ Paulie Malignaggi. After all but confirming his retirement from the sport after his March 4 loss to Britain’s Sam Eggington, the 36-year-old has been enjoying his time in-front of the cameras and behind the microphone. A talented commentator and boxing analyst in his own right, Malignaggi looked set for a healthy retirement on the safe side of the ropes, however that all changed when the former two-weight world champion got a phone call from ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor.
McGregor reached out and asked Malignaggi to help him prepare for his August 26 super-fight against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and in a match that is expected to set all sorts of financial records, Paulie, being Paulie, couldn’t resist the offer of involvement.
Despite this apparent offer of genuine professionalism to help the UFC star prepare for the toughest test of his career, there were already seeds of underlying doubt that would have concerned Malignaggi, with the pair exchanging words in December last year after the boxer questioned McGregor’s legitimacy in crossing over sports.
Paulie told FightHype the following:
“It’s becoming like a joke now… personally, I don’t think the guy is going to box anyway… just to give him like a fair chance, you can put ankle weights on my ankles, you can tie this hand behind my back, you can put like something here so that I can’t keep my chin down either… that way it gives him a good target to hit. Who the f*** does he think he’s going to scare in a boxing ring,”
Despite this feud seemingly being brushed under the carpet this year, Paulie went out to Las Vegas with genuine ambitions to prepare ‘Mystic Mac’ for a near impossible assignment, however has recently explained his discovery of an ulterior motive from the Irishman.
Paulie explained to Yahoo Sports on Monday his opinion of the sparring camp which he has since left, a camp in which Dana White claims McGregor won all 12 rounds against the former boxer:
“I thought I was being brought to his camp so we could spar and get some work in, but I didn’t know there was some sort of hidden agenda. Who does that? If it’s that bad, the guys usually just wind up fighting. You don’t do this whole weird sparring thing. That was unexpected.”
Dana White released two clips of the sparring session in which one of them appears to show McGregor knocking down Malignaggi, however many, including Paulie himself, have interpreted this as a push down and find it bizarre how this clip has surfaced into the public domain.
In an interview with Kugan Cassius on iFLTV, Paulie urges White to release footage of the whole sparring session and finds it strange that only that short clip was shown out of 36-minutes of action. As well as this, he claims McGregor’s team members expertly used social media to create the impression he was dominating Malignaggi, when the opposite is true.
Malignaggi knows there is a long way before this fight is deemed possible, but despite McGregor telling the Paulie to “join the queue” for a potential bout, the Brooklyn-boy is convinced of it’s worth in telling The MMA Hour the following:
“It’s picked up a ton of momentum, the bad blood is there so let’s fight. We’ll need to see how he looks against Mayweather. If he looks dog s***, no one will want to see us fight. As long as he doesn’t get the living s*** beaten out of him, I think the demand is there to make the fight.”
So what next? If the August 26 show-down follows the script with a conclusive Mayweather victory, is there any weight behind a McGregor vs Malignaggi grudge match? Would this be a fight that both boxing fans and UFC fans can get behind? Let’s look at why it works…
With Twitter exchanges between both fighters and both camps, there would be no problem gathering public interest in this fight. We know that both of these guys like to talk, and despite Mayweather vs McGregor having a WWE-style to their fabricated ‘dislike’ for eachother, it’s clear that Paulie and Conor have a genuine despise for the other.
Malignaggi came unstuck in a majority of his big tests as a professional, and after amounting eight losses on his C.V it’s reasonable to think that the rewards would out-weight the risks in taking a fight against the UFC superstar.
Truth vs lies
With differing opinions over what really happened in that sparring session in Las Vegas last week, a score is clearly there to be settled by both parties. McGregor claims to have “whooped” Paulie’s ass, alluding to the ‘proof’ in the knockdown video that was leaked, whereas Paulie claims he won every round of their 12 round spar, with McGregor showing obvious weaknesses against the self-proclaimed out of shape boxer.
Either way, a fight gives us the answer that a lot of the boxing and UFC world crave, with arguably more build-up and tension warranted than next weekend’s ‘Money Fight’.
Less of a miss-match
With the early indications of the odds pricing Malignaggi at 4/7 and McGregor at 6/4, this fight is a lot closer than many would perceive a majorty of ‘cross-over’ fights. Sure, we can base our arguments on the limited sparring footage, but with Malignaggi at the end of a bruising roller-coaster career, it doesn’t take too much convincing to see the fight from a McGregor perspective, with age, strength, size, durability, and stamina all in the Irishman’s favour.
Malignaggi always relied on his fast hand-speed, athleticism and durability as a warrior, but at 36-years-of-age, ‘Magic Man’ Malignaggi is vulnerable. Sam Eggington stopped him for only the fifth time in his career in March, and with considerable time out of the ring before these two could ‘potentially’ fight, it would be concerning to see how much of an effect ‘father-time’ has had on Paulie.
Malignaggi would still come into the fight as the rightful favourite, but as we’ve seen in the last few weeks with the Mayweather vs McGregor fight, it doesn’t take too much media spin to see the fight through blinkered vision and the heart ruling the head. Boxing fans would still back Malignaggi and UFC fans McGregor, but as cross-over fights go, this would certainly have the potential to be the most competitive and interesting one to date.
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