Former two-time world boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi re-appeared in combat sports news over the last month after the boxer turned TV analyst was invited by Conor McGregor's team to help "The Notorious" prepare for his super-fight against Floyd Mayweather this Saturday, Aug. 26, in Las Vegas.
The partnership fell apart quickly, though, when photos were leaked that were, according to Malignaggi, misleading, which let to him leaving the camp and starting a war of words with the UFC lightweight champion.
"I think it was planned," Malignaggi told AG. Fight for FloCombat. "When I looked back [at what happened], I realized that everything was probably planned from the start. I talked bad about Conor six months ago, I wanted to get the fight, but that happens a lot among boxers. We talk, we try to get the fight.
"So, when he called me, I thought, Conor already talked bad about me, but since we won't fight it's like, hey, we're friendly to each other, we hug each other -- it's business. If you fight, you fight. If you don't fight, you understand that it's [been] business. So, I'm thinking, I've been through this before, I'm going to [join the] camp and we're going to be cool."
That didn't hold up for too long.
"I regret it a bit [to have accepted the offer]," Malignaggi said. "You know what it is? He couldn't get what he wanted from me the right way, so he did it the wrong way. He made up stories because he wanted to embarrass me so bad. He didn't have a lot. He had a few pictures but it doesn't work. You put the pictures out, now what happens? The reporters call me and ask me a lot questions because I'm Paulie Malignaggi. They asked me a bunch of questions: 'Can he punch?' So, I said yes, he can punch a little but he's not that big a puncher. Because he's not. He's OK, like, it's not bad. It's not [Gennady] Golovkin. It's not Canelo [Alvarez]. But it's not bad.
"I think he got mad about [the comments about his punching power], so he was looking for a way to make me go down and say, 'Look, that's my power.' But he didn't even do that right. He was pushing my head down and I'm pushing away. He let go and I fell. The right hand didn't touch me, it was a smack. You don't knock anybody down with a smack, I'm sorry. Not with 16 ounces and headgear. It's not going to happen."
So, how did the sparring in general go for him, despite the knockdown?
"I don't care," Malignaggi said. "I was in half-shape, I was OK. Listen, if I can go 12 rounds with you, in half-shape, and you're in training camp, you have a problem. You have a big problem. I can't do 12 rounds with girl boxers if I'm not in shape. And I got the better of a lot of the rounds [against McGregor].
"For me, I wasn't mad at anything but I started seeing things, and I started getting mad. This guy is doing things on purpose […]. One day, he made me come to the gym at 3:30. We're supposed to box at 9. I show up at 3:30, no boxing. And I can't work out because before, Conor has to work out, and I can't watch him work out. So why do I have to come to the gym at 3:30 [if] we're supposed to box at 9!? Just to tell me I can't work out […]? I cannot do this every day for three weeks."
Despite the experience not having been the smoothest for Malignaggi, he now has a unique foundation for predictions and didn't hesitate to give his take on what the outcome will be when 0-0 McGregor meets 49-0 Mayweather this Saturday at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena.
"I see Conor being very dirty in the beginning [to have Mayweather] confused," he said. "A mixed martial artist, when he gets close, what does he do? He grabs you. I was boxing [McGregor on the inside]. He doesn't know how to fight inside […]. Outside, Floyd is too good. Inside, Conor doesn't know how to fight, so what is he going to do? After a few rounds, he's going to realize he's dead -- just like with Nate Diaz."
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