Trust me, the heavily-rumoured bare-knuckle boxing matchup between champion boxer Paulie Malignaggi and former UFC star Artem Lobov would be a genius move on the part of the growing promotion, BKFC.
Paulie’s now-infamous sparring session with Conor McGregor made him a near-unavoidable presence within the MMA headlines for quite a while.
His persistence in defending himself after the Irishman’s camp leaked footage of his worst moments in there with the then-UFC champion certainly left many annoyed at the very mention of his name, but to those in the know, Paulie is a very fascinating personality who has had an exemplary career.
As a two-time world champion who managed to nail his transition into one of the best and most well-spoken boxing analysts in the game, Malignaggi looks set to return to the ring – this time to make his bare-knuckle boxing debut.
Signing with blossoming promotion Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship after hinting at a return to competition for some time, his campaign for revenge against Team McGregor will reportedly begin with a showdown against SBG Ireland’s Artem Lobov.
Love him or hate him, if there are two things that are certain about Artem it’s that firstly, he’s an action fighter who will literally press forward and fight until he has to stop and secondly, he is nothing short of a huge signing for BKFC.
Simply put, Lobov is a star.
It may well be as a result of one of the oddest and most relentless meme campaigns the sport has ever known, but the man they continue to call the G.O.A.T is a more recognizable face than many give him credit for.
Leaving the UFC was perhaps the best move The Russian Hammer could have made for his bank-balance. Now, he has the opportunity to test his ability to draw eyes – because trust me, one way or another people are going to be interested to see this man fight.
That being said, there are many people out there who will dismiss a fight between Malignaggi and Lobov straight off the bat.
But this is too much fun to pass up on.
Two guys with close ties to the ever-divisive superstar Conor McGregor, both with almost cult-esque levels of attention on them at all times.
Both Artem and Paulie are big names within the MMA world for different reasons.
And while Conor’s move to the world of boxing saw him engage in an unwinnable exhibition with the legendary Floyd Mayweather, there’s reason to believe that this fight will be a lot more competitive.
Do not sleep on the difference that the ‘bare-knuckle’ aspect of this sport will make to the skillset of the former champion boxer.
Although, in a recent interview with MMAFighting‘s Luke Thomas on his SiriusXM radio-show, Malignaggi explained how the transition from the 10oz gloves of boxing to bare-knuckle will be easier for him than most think.
“I think people assume when they watch a guy box that they know how he’s going to street-fight or bare-knuckle box. Professional fighters know how to fight.
“I don’t think everything has to translate exactly to bare-knuckle from the way I used to box.
“Honestly, I do think there are adjustments to be made defensively but I also think the way I throw punches, a boxer can become much more offensive-minded in a street fight.
“From my experience – and not to say that bare-knuckle boxing is a street-fight – but the need to set traps, the need to worry about what you’re going to do is out the window.
“I know what I’m going to do is going to be better than what you’re going to do. You don’t have what I have. The offensive assault I have cannot be matched by a person in the street and it definitely cannot be matched in the talent-pool that I’ve seen in bare-knuckle boxing so far.”
Maybe it’ll be enough to even the playing field somewhat. Maybe not.
Paulie is 38 and has been retired since March 2017. In a nutshell, he is a superb technician and a very high-level athlete who would no doubt dominate this matchup if it took place under the traditional boxing rule-set.
Lobov is definitely the less traditionally skilled of the two but he’ll come into this one with his most important and potentially pivotal advantage stemming from his experience in smaller gloves.
Boasting an iron chin and decent punching power – he will provide the perfect opposite to the slick style offered by Malignaggi.
It’s easy to dismiss this fight due to some of the opinions you may have about either of these men but this remains a very intriguing contest and above all else, a completely bizarre and unique spectacle.
How about we just sit back and enjoy ourselves!
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena