There was little to no waiting around for Paulie Malignaggi once he joined the Conor McGregor camp in Las Vegas this week. It was pretty much straight down to business.
The Italian-American fighter flew out to the desert on Wednesday and was sparring with McGregor on Thursday. By Friday morning there was already a picture floating around online of McGregor taunting Malignaggi in the ring. The Irishman posted the shot, in which he is seen holding his hands behind his back, to Instagram along with the tagline, “They say I’ve got no hands.”
It was a great snap, but told us little about what actually went down in the session. Malignaggi, however, did lend us some insight into happenings in sparring when he spoke to ESPN journalist Brett Okamoto on Friday.
“It was good, it was good. We did eight good rounds of work. It was educational,” said the recently retired boxer, whose commentary on the goings on in camp is likely contractually limited. “It was physical work and Conor is coming along.”
While on the press tour for his August 26th boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., McGregor claimed that he had an ulterior motive for bringing Malignaggi into the camp. Months ago, when McGregor vs Mayweather still seemed like a mere far-fetched notion, Malignaggi had talked a little trash about the UFC lightweight champion in an attempt to goad him into a fight. McGregor said that he planned to make Malignaggi “answer” for the things that he had said once they stepped into the ring.
Malignaggi admitted that sparring had been intense and that some barbs had been tossed amidst barrages of punches, but he also said that it had been an enjoyable session.
“In a championship camp, the sparring is intense, so I didn’t expect to go in there and it be a picnic,” said Malginaggi. “Conor is a competitor, I’m a competitor. We got in there and there was a lot of trash talking right away, there was a lot of fighting right away. In the end, you look back on it was kind of fun. I don’t have everybody that can match my trash talking, but Conor definitely can. So it was making it a lot of fun.”
“Once the sparring was over, we had a good talk. He is very cordial and we had a good talk. He expressed to me that he’d like me to stay for the rest of the camp and we’ll continue to work. And I was happy to be able to speak to him cordially because before that we hadn’t really been very cordial, including inside the ring.”
Malignaggi won’t be in Las Vegas for too much longer. As he recently told Brendan Schaub, he must fly home to New York early next week to provide on-air analysis of the Adrien Broner – Mikey Garcia fight for Showtime, but he is likely to return to the fold after the intriguing July 29th showdown.
Most people giving McGregor a chance against Mayweather talk about his size, strength and youth advantages, as well as the power in his lauded left hand, although an increasing number of people are beginning to express the belief that ‘The Notorious’ one can cause Mayweather real issues early on if he embraces the unorthodox.
Malignaggi suggested that what McGregor is working on is indeed out of the ordinary.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. To say that a mixed martial artist coming into boxing would be awkward, it would probably be an understatement,” said the 36-year-old New Yorker. “He is going to have his own style, he is going to have his own set up things that he does and…he’s got a game plan behind it. It’s not what people think. There’s a game plan to what he is doing. There’s a method to Conor’s madness.”
“I’ll put it like this: He knows what he wants to do and he has a method of how he wants to get there,” added Malignaggi, in a moment not included in the video below but in the ESPN transcript of the entire interview. “The mechanism of how he gets there may look, to the naked eye, ‘hmm, I don’t know about this.’ But there’s a method to his madness. He’s a thinker.”
“You come into the situation already knowing Conor has a big left hand. So if you’re fighting Conor, you’re probably gonna prepare for that left hand. So obviously Conor is working on other things besides the left hand, so that there could be a surprise element to it, too.”
You can watch the interview below…