One of the most unexpected storylines throughout the Mayweather-McGregor saga involved former two-time boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi.
The retired fighter turned analyst served as a sparring partner in McGregor’s training camp, and the relationship was not a smooth one. After McGregor’s camp released photos of the Irish MMA star getting the best of Malignaggi in their two sparring sessions, Malignaggi publicly trashed McGregor all throughout the buildup to the Mayweather fight.
The two even got in an altercation days before the bout, despite the fact that Malignaggi remained on the Showtime broadcast’s commentary team for the fight.
While Malignaggi clearly has real animosity towards McGregor, there’s another reason for why he has continued his trash-talking long after the Mayweather fight: he wants to be McGregor’s next opponent in the ring. Signing a bout against McGregor is the fighting equivalent of winning the lottery, and Malignaggi is aware of what kind of payday he could garner if he did get the “money fight”.
According to McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh at the launch of the Original Penguin AW17 collection in Dublin on Wednesday night, McGregor too expressed interest in fighting Malignaggi — but there’s a catch.
“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 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.”
Kavanagh is correct in his assessment that an MMA fight against Malignaggi is extremely implausible. It is one thing for a commission to sanction McGregor in a boxing bout, but allowing Malignaggi to step into a cage would be an indefensible decision.
Still, McGregor clearly hasn’t brushed off the heat between he and his former sparring partner. The Irishman has a habit of getting the fights that he wants, so it is possible that the McGregor-Malignaggi storyline isn’t over yet.