Two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi wants first crack at Conor McGregor following the Irishman being granted a Californian boxing license.
Malignaggi, who has three wins on the spin since losing to Danny Garcia in 2015, believes McGregor is using the sport for publicity and would need to fight somebody with a name before he goes anywhere near main target Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor has eyes on a multi-million dollar cross-codes deal with Mayweather, although Malignaggi is adamant the UFC champion would be unable to waltz straight into boxing and face the number one guy.
“I heard about Conor McGregor’s boxing license and I thought, ‘why not put my name out there?’ – I’m not really in my prime anymore, but I’ve kind of always fit the bill as the fighter who has enough of a name for somebody to test the (world-class) waters out,” Malignaggi exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Sometimes it’s gone well for people who want to face a name fighter and sometimes it hasn’t. I was the first fight in America for Amir Khan as he came here to make his debut – that worked out. I was the guy they picked to bring back Juan Diaz after he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez – that didn’t work out for them. Senchenko wanted an American name opponent before he made his debut in America so he could come with some momentum – that didn’t work out them, you know.
“I was also the guy they picked to fight Miguel Cotto when he was having chin troubles and getting hurt. They needed a guy who could sell fights in New York – that worked out for them, even though it was a tough fight.
“I’ve kind of gained this reputation, not of my own desire, probably since I don’t have a lot of knockout wins on my ledger – even though I’ve become a world champion two times. But if you can fight, you could beat me – but you better be able to fight.”
On McGregor’s ambitions to face Mayweather, Malignaggi added: “I think McGregor knows he cannot go into a boxing fight against a no-name fighter and then face Floyd Mayweather. I don’t think anybody would buy into it.
“I think he needs enough of a name to push it to a marquee-level fight, but I just don’t think he’s a guy that would beat Paulie Malignaggi. I’d send him back to MMA with his tail between his legs.
“He’s got ability but it’s something I question. I questioned it from the start and I already told people that he’s not a guy that can beat me. I really don’t think he can – there’s no way.”
A debut for McGregor in a boxing ring could happen in the coming year, and should Malignaggi not get the call, it will be interesting to see who ‘The Notorious’ chooses as his first test outside the octagon.