First and foremost, this is not an attack or an attempt to mock Conor McGregor’s effort against Floyd Mayweather Jr. McGregor’s showing was actually quite impressive. More than anything, this is just to give respect where it’s due and understand the difference between boxing and mixed martial arts.
While there was bad blood leading into the first in-person meeting between McGregor and former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi, it appeared that the two men would be professional and the former champion could help the current UFC champ in his preparations for the Mayweather fight. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. When pictures were leaked on social media of their sparring session, Malignaggi was understandably upset and decided to leave McGregor’s camp.
An unwritten rule in the world of combat sports is that what happens in the gym, stays in the gym. Not only was that rule broken with the leak of the pictures, but McGregor had everyone sign non-disclosure agreements and yet didn’t mind sharing anything that made him look better.
Malignaggi was outspoken following his departure from the camp. He was very blunt and real about his opinion of the Irish UFC superstar. Malignaggi went on to discuss how McGregor was a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. Inside the ring, there were a lot of dirty things that Malignaggi said needed to be cleaned up. He also pointed out that McGregor’s endurance was questionable, which proved factual in the fight.
Malignaggi even went as far as to ask the “Notorious” one, “Did you bring your balls, Conor?” He truly didn’t believe that McGregor had what it took inside of him to get a victory over Mayweather. This wasn’t a former boxing champion coming in and getting upset, taking his ball and going home. No, this was real-life happenings inside the world of combat sports. So, what happened next?
Many from the MMA world started to call out Malignaggi. Stay in your lane and leave the MMA guy alone, they’d say. Well, in retrospect, most of what Malignaggi said in the lead-up to the fight proved true on fight night. In a sense, Malignaggi was redeemed, and it’s clear now that he’d like his own fight against McGregor.
Forget about the storyline, the possible paycheck it would bring, and any of the other promotional stuff that could go into making this fight. Malignaggi deserves more respect from the entire combat-sports community. It’s almost laughable how he was criticized for being so vocal in his pursuit of McGregor, when McGregor became so popular because of his own words that were backed by his fighting actions.
Now that the spectacle of Mayweather and McGregor is over and we’re able to look back, Malignaggi was brought in for his knowledge, history and commentary on the sport of boxing. He gave us all of that after spending time around McGregor, but most people shrugged him off. Yet, Malignaggi was doing right by his sport and his experiences. He was willing to at least try to work with MMA’s biggest star, until the lines of respect were crossed. Maybe now, just maybe, we’ll respect Malignaggi for what he brought into the spectacle. Or maybe we’ll have to wait for Malignaggi and McGregor to settle it inside the boxing ring.