Two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi has questioned whether Conor McGregor’s boxing career will even get off the ground in 2017 as the lightweight title holder is currently tied to UFC.
McGregor, 28, has received a license to box by the California State Athletic Commission, although is currently under contract to UFC boss Dana White to appear on a pay-per-view for the company in the next few months.
Malignaggi instantly stepped forward when McGregor announced his intention to make a cross codes debut next year, but whether the event would get White’s blessing is another story.
“Would Dana White allow Conor McGregor to box? – I still think he has to cut a deal with Dana White to be allowed to go box,” Malignaggi exclusively told World Boxing News.
“A piece of me thinks it’s all a big sideshow and none of this ever happens, it’s all just talk. Part of the reason for that is Dana White. He’s only 28 but you’re still risking the image of Conor McGregor and is Dana White prepared to do that?
“By putting him in a boxing ring, you’re risking the image that they have developed. McGregor has developed this invincible image in the cage, even if he’s gotten beat. He got beat taking a massive risk by jumping up in weight so there almost a respect factor to that.
“Aside from that, if you put him in boxing and someone embarrasses him, you risk putting a serious dent in his image.”
Asked about McGregor’s transition and whether he watched a sparring video doing the rounds featuring a fellow professionla, Malignaggi answered: “I saw a couple of rounds of his sparring session with Chris Van Heerden, and I’m not going to get into the tactics of it, but he’s not bad even though there was a little bit of an awkwardness.
“If you’re going to take a risk, and I’m not saying I’m the gatekeeper, but I know where I am in my career. If I do train, I know I have some ability in winning three fights against decent-level opposition and I don’t believe McGregor is anything more than a decent level boxer.
“As a cage fighter he’s terrific and I’m even a fan of his. I watch him and I’m entertained but I certainly wouldn’t try to jump in a cage to overstep my boundaries. I think it’s a disrespect to these fighters who train day in and day out in Mixed Martial Arts to try to jump in and make a couple of bucks.
“In the same token, you have to respect the hand skills of real boxers. So, you can’t even think you’re going to jump in there against world-class opposition and beat them.
“I’ll prove to Conor McGregor that he’s not at that level,” added the Italian-American.