There was a rumor going around recently about pro boxer, welterweight Brandon Rios, knocking out UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in a sparring session. Fans immediately wrote of McGregor’s chances of beating Floyd Mayweather when they meet this August 26th in Las Vegas.
Why? Because if the very limited in skill Rios could knock McGregor out, imagine what Mayweather would be able to do. Rios has since debunked that rumor and proven it to be a complete lie. The Mexican-American fighter said he never even met McGregor before, let alone spar him.
But there is one well-known pro boxer who did get in the ring with McGregor recently. Former top welterweight and boxing champion Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi was called up by Team McGregor to help prepare the Irishman for his showdown with “Money”.
Why is this important?
Paulie Malignaggi is known as one of the most technically gifted boxers of recent memory. He has the ability to emulate Mayweather’s style, and is a great defensive and offensive fighter. He is also one of the world’s top welterweights.
A picture of Conor McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi in sparring is currently making the rounds on social media. With McGregor’s hands behind his back, it appears he is more than just holding his own against the pro boxer. It appears as though McGregor may be even toying with Malignaggi a little bit.
Of course, since it’s just one snapshot, take the news with a grain of salt. At the very least however, Conor McGregor may be doing much better than expected.
Will the Mayweather fight be competitive?
This is what Conor McGregor fans are hoping for. To be honest, no one has seen McGregor legitimately box before. Yes we’ve seen bits and pieces circulate in social media. But in this recent training camp for the biggest fight of his life? Not so much. Both the Mayweather and McGregor camps have kept everything tight-lipped.
Obviously, it’s probably best to hear the news from Malignaggi himself, since he’s at McGregor’s camp.
“I wouldn’t say I’m going there to train him but I might be able to give him some technical titbits,” Malignaggi told The MMA Hour. “I think Conor has a very capable training team, he has a team that understands him inside and outside the Octagon.”
How does Paulie think the fight will go?
“There’s no doubt in his mind,” Malignaggi said of McGregor. “When I first saw the fight signed, I thought to myself, ‘Conor has to know he’s going to lose. I mean, subtly, he’s got to believe he’s going to lose.’
“I thought he was doing it a lot for the money. I thought, ‘there’s no way this guy really believes he’s going to win.’ But through the press conferences day in, day out, day in, day out that I was at, I really noticed something in Conor’s character. This guy is a winner through and though, which I always believed he was. But this guy believes he’s going to win this fight. Now, whether it sounds ridiculous to the boxing fans or ridiculous to anybody else, it may sound ridiculous even to me or somebody else, he believes it whole-heartedly in his mind.
“There’s nothing this guy hasn’t been able to achieve in his life when doubt was pressed onto him. So in his mind, he’s doing the same thing he’s been doing his whole life: proving the doubters wrong, proving the odds wrong. And in his mind, he’s going to do it again, and he whole-heartedly believes that. I could tell there was emotion behind that trash talk, there was passion behind that trash talk. There was passion behind what he was saying. You can only be that passionate if you believe in where you’re going, what you’re doing.”
“Here’s what happens: you have a moment here, you have a moment there. Sometimes, especially when you punch as hard as Conor McGregor, sometimes a moment becomes a bigger moment. Sometimes a bigger moment ends the fight. So you look at it like this: can Conor have a moment or two here and there? Because overall, the control of the fight, I believe, will be Floyd’s. Floyd fights for control and I believe Floyd will be in control.”
Malignaggi did go on to say that if by the off-chance McGregor does indeed win, he would probably stick to boxing and never return to MMA. This is obviously because of the bigger paydays in boxing.
So what do you guys think of McGregor toying with Malignaggi in sparring? Stay tuned. Once that video comes out, we’ll have it here.