Conor McGregor’s feud with sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi dominated the build-up to his megabucks fight with Floyd Mayweather, and the former boxer has now weighed in on Notorious' ability again after odds were released for a potential professional fight between himself and the Irishman.
The rivalry began in December 2016 after the Notorious was granted his professional boxing license, with Malignaggi offering to be the first boxer to take him on.
“I have been thinking a lot about the McGregor situation,” Malignaggi said in a video posted to Twitter, “and I got to thinking – you know what? I am kind of interested.
“At first I was telling Conor to stay in his lane and I was thinking you are going to embarrass yourself, but if you are really going to disrespect the sport of boxing like that then I would like to be the one to teach you that lesson.”
McGregor, of course, was not impressed with the comments, and responded in typical fashion at a Q&A event in Ireland.
“I don’t know who the f--k that is but I’ll slap the nose off him if he ever mentions my name again.”
The announcement of the Mayweather fight might well have spelled the end of things between the two – were it not for the fact that McGregor then drafted in Malignaggi as a sparring partner for his training camp.
Those sparring sessions, of course, were extremely heated, and American Malignaggi told The Dan Patrick Show afterwards that McGregor was “not very likeable”.
McGregor, for his part, posted a picture of himself standing over Malignaggi on the canvas before quickly deleting it, a move which did not sit well with his partner.
Then came Floyd Mayweather’s claim that Malignaggi had gone to McGregor’s came to spy for him.
“My friend Paulie has always been my friend, “ he said. “You know what, I even told my friend – my friend called me and saif ‘Floyd, do you want me to go to camp?’ I said, ‘Abso-f--king-lutely’.”
Things had finally gone quiet after the McGregor’s loss to Mayweather last month, but earlier this week, odds were released showing Malignaggi as slight favourite to win any fight between the pair at 2/1.
This reignited talk of a bout, and Malignaggi was always going to give his take.
In reaction to the odds, one fan tweeted: “I don’t see @PaulMalignaggi carrying [Conor McGregor] like Mayweather did. I see Paulie going right after McGregor and ending it quick. Hope fight happens”
Malignaggi, though, took a different view, and replied with:
“Nah I would just drag him through the mud til he quits and trust me he will quit, the inner bitch inside him is something he can’t control.”
It’s clear, then, than Malignaggi would be interested in the fight. At 37 he’s not far off retirement and knows there is money to be made with McGregor around.
What isn’t so obvious is whether he would actually win that fight – he said himself that he had more respect for McGregor after their sparring sessions, and it would be interesting to see how the Notorious handles himself when faced with a boxer closer to his level.