Saturday 18 November 2017

Conor McGregor invites boxer who threatened to ‘knock his beard off’ into his camp

Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor takes place in Las Vegas in August
Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor takes place in Las Vegas in August

Luke Brown

Former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi has confirmed that he will play a role in Conor McGregor’s training camp ahead of the Floyd Mayweather fight – despite previously threatening to “knock the beard off” the Irishman.

Malignaggi, who has previously held the IBF light welterweight and WBA welterweight titles, was one of McGregor’s fiercest critics when he first obtained a boxing license, back in February. He warned McGregor to “stay in his lane” and also told him that “you will soon be apologizing for everything you have been trying to do to get into boxing.”

But Malignaggi has now revealed that the hatchet has been buried, and that he will be working with McGregor in the weeks leading up to his professional boxing debut against Mayweather.

“I guess it’s down to how long they need me to work,” Malignaggi said Monday on The MMA Hour podcast.

“This is the first time that ever happened to me, so in my professional experience when I used to run my own training camps, I’d make all the decisions. I’d meet with my team and we’d make all the decisions as far as how long sparring partners should stay, when a sparring partner should go, and all this other stuff.

“So, if I’m going by the way that I look at things, all those decisions are going to be up to them — how long they want to keep me around for, how long they don’t want to keep me around for, and so on and so forth. I’m just there to accommodate as best as I can.”

Malignaggi had first hinted that he would be sparring with McGregor some weeks ago. But there was some confusion over whether that would still be the case when the Irishman criticised Malignaggi during one of the legs of the world tour to promote his fight with Mayweather.

Malignaggi covered the first three legs of the world tour for Showtime, with McGregor taking a swipe at him for some of the comments he had made in the media.

“Yeah, look, Paulie talked a lot of s***,” McGregor said during the tour. “Look he’s been brought in to spar and then he’ll answer to what he’s been saying and then we’ll go from there after that. But we’re gonna have a knock in the gym.

“I mean, look, we’re gonna have a knock and he’s gonna have to answer to what he’s been saying. Then, maybe, we’ll see after that.”

But Malignaggi has said the two men are now on the same page and that they still plan to spar together ahead of August 26.

“When Conor got his boxing license, all the boxers looked at it like, ‘wow, this is a big paycheck here, and it’s a guy who’s probably a little bit (more) limited than your basic world-class boxer,’ so everybody’s trying to get in there,” Malignaggi added.

“So me, using my trash-talking ability that I have, me knowing that I’m one of the better known fighters in the business, I kind of put myself at the forefront. I tried to talk a little bit of trash and get under his skin and try to see if he would take the bait. So the trash talk was done about six months ago, I was looking to get the fight.

“I’ve since lost my last fight and retired, so that’s actually out the window. But I think that basically what they’re looking at and what he’s talking about is probably the trash talking way back then, and yeah, we’re going to have a knock in the gym.

“But listen, from a fighter’s perspective, you have in a knock in the gym anyway. Even if you’re best friends with the guy you’re sparring, you’re still going to have a knock in there. That’s just the way sparring goes, especially at a world-class championship level in the gym at sparring. I’ve never been a part of a training camp where sparring was light.

“So, the having a knock in the gym part, it’s good for the media to jump on, it’s good for fans to jump on to give them something to talk about, but the reality of it all, you’re going to have a knock in the gym regardless. That’s just the way it is.”

Independent News Service

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