Former WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi has claimed that Conor McGregor is “not a very likeable” sparring partner, after joining the Irishman’s training camp ahead of his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather.
Malignaggi has previously been a vocal critic of McGregor’s decision to jump from the sport of mixed martial arts to boxing, and gave a series of inflammatory interviews about the Irishman’s chances in the ring. So eyebrows were raised when Malignaggi agreed to spar with McGregor ahead of his Las Vegas fight later this month.
And, in perhaps unsurprising news, Malignaggi has revealed that the intense sparring sessions have not been especially enjoyable, with one session on Monday becoming ‘rough’, ‘intense’ and ‘very dirty’.
“I'll be honest, it got a little rough, it got a little tense, it got very dirty in spots in sparring,” Malignaggi said on The Dan Patrick Show.
“He brings his game face into sparring. He's not very likeable, but I've got to admit I'm not very likeable either a lot of times in there.
“Also there had been words in the media about what we had said about each other before we even came to camp.
“I'm sure it all came to a head in sparring and I'm sure it will come to a head again during sparring. I'm not here to be friends with anybody and I've certainly seen the way he is with his sparring partners, he's definitely not here to be friends with any of his sparring partners.”
The American also revealed that on Tuesday the two men took part in a 12-round bout, which again quickly descended into a full-blooded affair.
“There was a lot of violence,” Malignaggi told ESPN. “I went in there to prove a point. I didn’t like the fact I had to fly across the country on Monday, and they have me scheduled for 12 [rounds] on Tuesday. I thought it was a little bit of a setup.
“Usually all sparring is private. I show up at the UFC headquarters and [former owner, Lorenzo] Fertitta is there. [UFC president] Dana White is there. So, I’m thinking these guys are thinking they’ll catch me right off the flight, set me up for him to look good in front of his audience. I didn’t like that. I kind of went in with a chip on my shoulder.”
Despite the rough sparring sessions, and McGregor’s commitment to his training, Malignaggi still thinks Mayweather is the more likely man to win come August 26.
“I can’t say based on a sparring session, oh I’m going to pick this guy to win the fight,” he added.
“But I will say this, he’s serious about what he wants to do. He has an awkwardness to where he can land some shots, and I wouldn’t say his power is what the reputation holds it for. I wouldn’t say it’s that strong, but his power is enough to where you definitely should respect it.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies