Even before it was all made official, two-division world boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi lambasted both Conor McGregor and the mere idea of him fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. “Magic Man” previously said McGregor would not even stand a chance at the New York City Golden Gloves, after having seen the sparring video against Chris van Heerden.
Ironically, Malignaggi was eventually tapped to be one of McGregor’s sparring partners in preparation for the August 26th fight. And after spending a few weeks in camp, Malignaggi says he has now developed a newfound respect for the Irishman.
"It makes me respect McGregor to see his work ethic that he's put into the training camp,” Malignaggi told Sky Sports. “Seeing him work hard every day and see that he's really determined to upset the odds.”
"When you talk to Conor, at first I started thinking this guy doesn't really think he's going to win this, it's just a $100 million fight for him,” he continued. "Then when you really start to talk to him, you start to realize that this guy really believes it down deep inside his heart and he's got every reason to, because every time he's been doubted in his life he has been able to overcome those odds and win, no matter what it is.”
Apart from the gift of gab in trash talking, McGregor’s self-belief has been one of his most dominant personality traits. For Malignaggi, this has been driving force to all the success in McGregor’s fighting career.
"Come out of poverty, become a UFC champion, become a two-time two-weight UFC champion,” Malignaggi said. “Whatever it's been, he's done it. He has no reason to ever doubt himself, because he is yet to be proven wrong.”
"From the outside, we're going to doubt him again, but Conor McGregor doesn't have any doubts in his mind."
As for sparring, Malignaggi’s biggest takeaway is McGregor’s unique fighting style.
"Timing wise it makes it a little bit different to time. I'm not going to say difficult to time, because you can get a timing on him, but at first glance you are not going to get a look that you're accustomed to and then depending on him, his aggression, his non-aggression, because Conor has different methods of executing his little game-plans that he has,” Malignaggi explained.
"It's going to be up to Conor to throw those little curve balls here and there and throw things a bit out of line for Floyd, and see if he can get Floyd's respect."
Mayweather vs. McGregor will be a 12-round fight at 154 pounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.