Coach John Kavanagh has revealed that Conor McGregor actually wished to fight Paulie Malignaggi inside the octagon following their highly public feud over the past few months.
One of the more surprising stories that emerged from the absolute circus that was August’s ‘Money-Fight’ between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor was the bizarre rivalry that blossomed between the Irishman and his two-time sparring partner, Paulie Malignaggi.
At times, news concerning Malignaggi and McGregor would attract more attention than the fight itself and for a solid one-week period following the release of some divisive sparring footage featuring the pair, it was easily the most-covered topic on the minds of the combat sporting world.
Paulie’s reputation did unfortunately take quite a hit as a result of his turbulent time over the last few months and the manner in which he handled the situation and his professionalism throughout earned him quite a bit of stick from those faithful to the ‘Notorious One’.
With that being said, the retired American’s intentions seemed almost transparent from the start, and at times, it just seemed as though he was begging for the opportunity to gain his own ‘red-panty night’, so to speak.
Well, somewhat surprisingly, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh spoke at the Original Penguin AW17 launch in Dublin recently and revealed that Paulie’s wish almost came through for him, albeit in a manner that would have truly doomed him.
“He said to me, ‘Let’s get him in the Octagon’, and I said that there was no way that he would fight in MMA. You’ve got to be able to prove yourself in the arena. When Conor wanted a boxing license they [the Nevada State Athletic Commission] could look at the Diaz 2 fight where there was more or less 25 minutes of boxing.
“Why would Paulie go to MMA? He’d never go to MMA. Now, Conor could tweet now and say ‘I’m fighting Paulie Malignaggi’, and I guess I would be wrong then” (via MMAFighting)
An MMA fight between the near-lifelong student of the game McGregor and the relative novice that is the former two-time world champion boxer would indeed be the travesty that many incorrectly predicted Mayweather/McGregor to be.
But despite knowing the obvious, it does seem as though Conor simply felt like teaching his latest rival a lesson, something Kavanagh backed up, voicing his frustrations at Paulie’s conduct throughout their correspondence.
“It wasn’t just general stuff explaining how he was part of the camp. He had to go back to New York to do some promotion for the Andre Ward fight, and straightaway he was disrespecting (McGregor’s) power.
“He was saying this and that, and I was thinking, ‘What are you doing, you have to come back here and spar Conor in seven days?
“This guy is a former world champion, he should know that you should keep your mouth shut until the fight is over – then write a book, then do fifty interviews. That would have been no problem, we would have no issue with that.
“But you can’t go the next day and the day after that and the day after that, and start giving away ideas we have. That’s what threw me off, he wasn’t acting like a professional.”
Indeed, it was one of the more unexpected stories of the year but at this stage, with the allure of rematches, belts and title-defences on his mind, maybe don’t hold your breath on seeing Paulie Malignaggi accept the opportunity to settle his beef with McGregor inside the octagon any time soon.
A fight inside the ring, however, is an infinitely more realistic proposition.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena