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Paulie Malignaggi says ‘why not?’ to Conor McGregor fight: ‘That’s the easiest money I can make’

With Mayweather vs. McGregor now in the books, there’s still some unfinished business for the Irishman in the boxing world.

There were several story lines swirling about Conor McGregor’s boxing vs. MMA superfight on August 26th with Floyd Mayweather Jr., beyond the fight itself. Mayweather made it known that father time was creeping up on him. The UFC had to navigate the interesting position of becoming a boxing promoter and of finding a way to get part of McGregor’s fight purse. The May-Mac World Tour was it’s own series of PR flubs and spectacles.

But one narrative stole the show.

Conor McGregor’s training camp for his first pro boxing bout became the flashpoint of controversy in the buildup. Most notably, his decision to bring in former WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. Throughout his camp, McGregor’s team used photos to tease his success over sparring partners in the ring. Against Malignaggi, that became highlight clips of the UFC lightweight champion seemingly dropping the retired boxer, along with landing several more hard shots. Those videos ended up part of a betting push that saw McGregor fall as low as +230 against Mayweather on some books. They also left a very irate Malignaggi in their wake.

The former champion was ringside for the Mayweather fight – as part of the Showtime Sports commentary team – and gave his thoughts on McGregor’s performance to iFL TV after the event.

“I didn't think he comported himself badly,” Malginaggi said, when asked what he thought of the fight. “Conor always gives you a bit of a different dimension, when you first see him it is a little bit of a weird look. I remember the first time I sparred him, I didn't get off a lot of punches, and I was telling myself, ‘Eh, it's probably because I'm out of shape,’ you know? That first time, the time I did eight rounds. But I noticed Floyd didn't get off a lot of punches either those first few rounds either. So, maybe you gotta give Conor a little bit of credit, maybe there's a little bit of confusion.

“But, the problem with Conor is – obviously it's not a 'problem' – is he just hasn't been boxing for a long time. He doesn't have a lot of dimensions to him. So, once you do figure it out, that's pretty much all he's got. He doesn't have any other dimensions to go to, where, ‘Okay now this guy figured this out, I'm gonna go to something else.’ It took Floyd a couple rounds – two, maybe three. But, once he figured it out, Conor didn't know what else to do. Once the fight started turning around, that's where it went. But, those early rounds, when you first see the guy, it does throw you off a little bit. If he could add dimensions to that, maybe he could be effective in his own little, weird, strange way.

“Obviously now people know that I'm not a hater, I'm not lying,” Malignaggi continued. “The guy can't punch. I mean, you saw, he only throws arm punches. He doesn't know how to translate his weight on his shots in boxing. I mean, there was nothing on those shots if you didn't notice. I was ringside, there was literally nothing on those shots. But, his little points, his little movements – sharp, awkward little movements – it won him a couple rounds. You gotta give credit where credit is due.”

And while Malignaggi gave what credit he could muster, it sounds like he didn’t see anything in the fight that would stop himself from stepping in the ring with McGregor, if given the chance.

“Fuck yeah, why not?” Malginaggi said, when asked if he’d box McGregor. “That's the easiest money I can make. Are you kidding me? He's not very likable. I mean, listen, everything I said about him came true tonight. You can't edit this video. You can't edit this fight. Everything I said came true tonight. I said, early on he's going to get through it and he can give you confusing looks early on. Then, when you start breaking him down, he's not the gutsiest guy. What's he do? He stops punching back, he goes into pockets of action where he doesn't throw back at all. He starts throwing less and less, he doesn't want to fight you when he's tired. And then finally, at the end, he basically let himself get stopped.

“He started stumbling around like he was hurt, all over the place. He wasn't that hurt. He was hurt, but he wasn't that hurt. So, stop stumbling around, bro. What are you stumbling around for? He was looking for a way out of the fight at a certain point. He said after the fight that they should have let him finish the round, they should have let him finish... You cannot go a minute straight without punching and be assaulted for that whole minute straight and expect the ref to not stop the fight. He said, ‘Oh I should have been allowed to go out on my back.’ Buddy, they'll let you go out on your back. Throw a punch or two and the referee won't stop it.

“And believe me, you would have went out on your back,” Malignaggi continued. “If he threw one or two punches in the last minute, Robert Byrd wouldn't have stopped the fight. And trust me, he would have went out on his back. So, you didn't want to go out on your back. The thing about boxing is, you can't lie, you can't edit the video. It's on TV, Cuz. You can edit the sparring, you can't edit the video. If you threw one – maybe two, three – punches in that final minute, just to show Robert Byrd you're there, he would have let you go out on your back, and you would have went out on your back. You chose not to go out on your back by not punching back.”

A fight with Malginaggi is perhaps the most sensible bout in boxing that McGregor could take, if he decides to keep his career in the ring going. As another smaller, retired opponent – and one not known for his punching power – it would likely be a relatively safer fight for the Irishman. And something he’s already got some heat built up for selling pay-per-views.

However, Malignaggi himself has never been any kind of PPV star in the past. And it stands to wonder just how worthwhile it would be for McGregor to carry a bout with the ‘Magic Man’ (one he absolutely could lose), when he could be carrying cards in the UFC, where his success is already well established. More likely, the threat of a bout with Malignaggi becomes a key bargaining chip for McGregor when he returns to the table to renegotiate his UFC contract in the near future.