Retired boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi has officially confirmed that he will be heading to Ireland later this week to help prepare Conor McGregor for his upcoming boxing match with Floyd Mayweather on August 26th.
Malignaggi served as part of Showtime’s analysis team during last week’s Mayweather Vs McGregor press conference world tour, but at that stage he wasn’t sure whether he would be getting brought on or not as it seemed there was some tension between the two parties.
Speaking to the media at the time about the possibility of Malignaggi training with him, McGregor had stated that, “we’re gonna have a knock and he’s gonna have to answer to what he’s been saying. Then, maybe, we’ll see after that.”
After having further talks with McGregor’s camp after the tour, Malignaggi has agreed to come on-board and while he’s not sure exactly what he’ll be used for or how long his services will be required, he does expect the two to trade punches in the ring.
“I’m confident about what I can do in there and I’m sure Conor is confident about what he can do in there, and yeah, we’ll probably have a knock,” Malignaggi told Ariel Helwani on ‘The MMA Hour’ show this week. “We’ll have a knock or even two or three. But I’m sure it’ll be all good, and if I can help out and do my part in the camp, then I’ll be happy.”
Malignaggi also insisted that despite McGregor’s apparently hostile attitude, that having intense sparring sessions in the gym was just part and parcel of what a fighter does anyway on a day to day basis in order to prepare for what’s to come on fight night.
“Even if you’re best friends with the guy you’re sparring, you’re still going to have a knock in there,” Malignaggi said. “That’s just the way sparring goes, especially at a world-class championship level in the gym at sparring. I’ve never been a part of a training camp where sparring was light.
“You have to raise your intensity level to a very high level, because on fight night, you need to be able to reach down and get that intensity level there, and you need to be familiar with that intensity level,” Malignaggi continued. “You can’t just show up on fight night and reach intensity levels you’re not used to getting to. So you get there in sparring a few times a week, and little bit little, your mind and your body acclimate to that kind of intensity, that level of intensity, so you don’t have to really dig deep to reach it.
“So, the having a knock in the gym part, it’s good for the media to jump on, it’s good for fans to jump on to give them something to talk about, but the reality of it all, you’re going to have a knock in the gym regardless. That’s just the way it is.”
The 36-year-old Malignaggi will be the highest profile fighter McGregor has sparred to date, having been a former two-weight champion who won both the IBF junior-middleweight title and WBA welterweight title over the course of his 16-year career.
‘Magic Man’s’ 36-8 career included wins over the likes of Zab Juddah and Juan Diaz, but he also has a number of losses to big name fighters like Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia.
Malignaggi announced his retirement back in March of this year after being KO’d by English fighter Sam Eggington in the eighth round.
He’s now a highly respected color commentator and analyst for Showtime Sports and will be part of the broadcast team for the Mayweather Vs McGregor pay-per-view broadcast on August 26th – so having had the chance to spar with the UFC lightweight champion will offer him priceless insight into how the superstar is going to fare on the night.