It was an experiment and it has ended not long after it started.
Neophyte boxer Conor McGregor invited Paul Malignaggi, the cerebral pugilist/specialist, to his camp in Vegas. After two spar sessions, Paulie has decided to jet.
His explanation today to social media followers:
Brooklyn bred analyst Paul Malignaggi retired from the ring after a loss to Sam Eggington in March. Oh, but you know this sweet and savage science, how it infects the blood of the warrior, born to battle, to clash with foes, and with self, seeking to confound the inevitabiites of deterioration and aging…
It’s not totally fair to compare boxing to the Mafia, but that they can compare this way: In the most popular line from Godfather III, Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone says, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”
OK, Malignaggi hasn’t been pulled back in, in total, but he is back in the ring again. The Showtime analyst, age 36, was invited to training camp for Conor McGregor, the 21-3 UFC mixed martial artist who will be trying his hands in the ring, not the Octagon.
Even ultra casuals know McGregor will be in the deepest of water with the king of sharks, Floyd Mayweather, who can make even skilled pactictiners of the sweet science look soured in the skills department. In 2013, Mayweather dominated Canelo Alvarez to the point the Mexican one a single round or so on my card. He made A grade Manny Pacquiao look average when they tangoed in 2015.
McGregor and team know he’s not the ace technician the 40 year old Mayweather is, and he’s banking on the fact that other assets will allow him to compete in a manner in which he’s accustomed. His unconventionality, he believes, will be a weapon. However, he’s still in a place where some basics, some building blocks, can and should be improved upon. And that’s why his people and he decided to bring in Malignaggi, who as a boxer featured a persistent jab, which set the table for him potshotting with crisp rights. He is a smart and consistent mover, who understands angles quite well, so McGregor can get a sense, in some small way, of things he will be seeing August 26 at the T-Mobile in Las Vegas.
I asked Malignaggi how that first day at McGregor camp went. How did he feel sparring the Irishman?
“I felt OK,” the New Yorker said. “Eight rounds, good work. I can’t disclose too much but McGregor is no dummy….there’s a method to his madness.”
You will note the picture accompanying this piece, which sees the Dubliner holding both hands behind his back, daring the Brooklyner to try and tag him. “They say I’ve got no hands,” he captioned the Instagram snap.
We do wonder, a millisecond after this pic was taken, did Paulie snake out a lead right and punish Conor for his hubris? “I don’t remember,” Paulie said, “but we did our share of touching in eight rounds!”
So, was Conor BETTER than Paulie expected?
“He has an idea of what he wants to do and how he wants to do it, he’s not clueless,” the boxer turned color man said. “He’s not your conventional boxer by any means but he’s capable and his power is good. Whether that can be effective is up to him, but he’s no dummy!”
Malignaggi will not spar McGregor today, Tuesday. “I come back to NY Monday night for Broner versus Garcia fight week,” he shared.
The McGregor v Mayweather fight will screen on PPV Aug. 26. Tix are on sale Monday, 1 PM ET.