UFC superstar Conor McGregor has begun his training for a boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. With only a few months to prepare for “Money,” the Irishman has brought in some unlikely sparring partners to help him get in boxing shape. Not one of them jumps off the page when figuring out if McGregor is getting the proper assistance leading up to his boxing debut. But that could all change when “Notorious” leaves his camp in Ireland behind and travels to Las Vegas for his final superfight preparation. That’s because former boxing world champion Paulie Malignaggi could be joining the cause.
“I did get called to go to camp with Conor McGregor,” Malignaggi said during a recent Showtime Sports podcast (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “I was surprised [since] I haven’t really been training, I haven’t been in the gym, so I started working out a little bit. I’m working out the details to spar with McGregor. If it’s something that’s going to be feasible, I think it’ll be cool because I think I’ll have some inside stuff to talk about on fight night.
“I don’t really see myself talking about anything about camp because I’m a team player. I don’t want to be the kind of guy that comes out of camp and starts talking, ‘this and that, and that happened in camp’, but I think on fight night – during the broadcast – I think I will have some cool, in-depth stuff that I’d like to talk about because by that point we’re already on fight night and it’s there. I think it’s interesting that they called me in general, you know. As people, know I announced my retirement and I think this is a good opportunity to lose a little bit of weight and also take part of a training camp without having to make weight, so that’s fun.”
Malignaggi, 36, announced his retirement from boxing earlier this year. Before that, the New York native produced a 36-8 record inside of the boxing ring while competing against notable fighters like Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Adrien Broner, Amir Khan, and Zab Judah. Throughout his career, Malignaggi captured the WBA welterweight title, IBF light welterweight title, and the WBC International light welterweight title.
“I think there are a lot of curiosities,” Malignaggi said. “I know he’s an ultra competitor, he’s a guy that’s very competitive and I’m curious to see –and I’ve seen him fight in the UFC, obviously and I think he’s very talented – how his training camp is coming along because I know he already started his training camp in Ireland and he’s going to move it to Las Vegas.
“That’s where I’m going to join them, when they transfer to Vegas, so I’m curious to see the kind of progress thus far in the Irish part of the camp and see what he’s got to offer in this part of camp. I don’t have my fighter eyes on right anymore, I’m not coming in as a 22-year-old sparring partner. When I was a 22-year-old kid, sparring with champions, I felt like I went in there with something to prove. I’m coming in here more of like a team player, and I’m curious to see what’s there. I think that first sparring session will be pretty interesting, so let’s see if I do it though. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but they have reached out to me and we’re in talks.”
If the former pro boxer can step in and join one of the more publicized training camps in recent memory, maybe he can help close the noticeable gap between McGregor and Mayweather. At the very least, maybe Malignaggi can bury the hatchet with McGregor after saying he’d ‘knock the beard off’ of the Irishman last year.
“I did call him out, but I think that shows the character of the man,” Malignaggi explained. “He could’ve said ‘screw that kid, he called me out, I’m not going to put him in my training camp’, but I think it shows the competitive spirit and the willingness to want to learn on the part of McGregor. It shows you how hungry he is because he put that pride aside. It’s not easy to put that pride aside specially when you’re a fighter. It makes me respect him a little more.”