Famous boxing referee Joe Cortez is being used by Conor McGregor’s camp to help them prepare for his first ever professional boxing match with Floyd Mayweather later this month, and as such he got to witness ‘The Notorious’ recent sparring session with Paulie Malignaggi firsthand.
Malignaggi has previously given his thoughts on the session and had suggested that the sparring was suitably intense, and Cortez has confirmed that wholeheartedly.
“[McGregor] handled himself pretty good with Paulie,” Cortez stated on SiriusXM. “That guy can pop. He was in there mixing it up a little bit with Paulie and it was the real thing. They was no messing around. In fact, I had to stop the action and I had to say, ‘Alright guys, you guys are a little out of control here, you gotta stop this.’ It got a little rough.”
Like Malignaggi, Cortez stopped short of going into too much detail about the specifics of the fight between them and wouldn’t say whether the Irishman had the upperhand, but by the sounds of it, he was at least giving as good as he was getting against the former two-weight world champion.
“They were both roughing each other up and I had to stop the action like in a regular fight. They were holding too much, they were trying to punch each other. I mean, it got a little bit out of control where I had to call ‘Time!’
“(I said) ‘Alright guys, you gotta stop this right now. I want a good clean round. Give me sportsman-like conduct. Understand? I don’t want to take any points from either one of you. Do you understand??’ I looked at them and they said, ‘Okay, alright.’ And I said, ‘Time in.’”
Cortez also admitted that had to shut down the verbal sparring between the two outspoken fighters as well.
“I had to put a stop to (the trash talking) as well. That’s part of why I had to stop the action.”