Two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi has opened up on his first taste of sharing the ring with UFC star Conor McGregor.
‘The Magic Man’ was drafted in by McGregor for his extensive ring experience amidst rumors ‘The Notorious’ was looking to dish out some punishment to the Italian-American for derogatory comments in the past.
No so, according to Malignaggi, who says the pair enjoyed eight competitive rounds this week, largely free from any real animosity.
“It was good. We did eight good rounds of work,” Malignaggi explained to Brett Okamoto of ESPN after his session with the Irishman.
“It was educational. There’s was a lot of trash talking, as me and him are known to have a little bit and we did eight good rounds of work. It was physical work. Conor is coming along.”
Asked how he felt going into the sparring, Malignaggi said: “I didn’t really go in with expectations. I was told I was going to do six and I felt it would go a little longer if it was good, what he needed. So when six was done we ended up going a couple more.
“It was good work and I look forward to helping him out a little more.”
And regarding those whispers of an ulterior motive on the part of McGregor, the 36 year-old stated: “In a championship camp the sparring is intense, so I didn’t expect to go in there and it to be a picnic, you know. Conor is a competitor, I’m a competitor and there was a lot of trash talking as soon as we got in there.
“There was a lot of fighting and when I look back of it, it was kind of fun. I don’t have many that can match my trash talking but Conor definitely can, so it made it a lot of fun.”
Without giving too much away, Malignaggi also dismissed any notion of McGregor aiming solely for a one-punch knockout, which is what a lot of people in the boxing world believe is the MMA fighter’s only chance against Floyd Mayweather on August 26.
“As far as the expectations, I wasn’t sure what to expect. They say a mixed martial artist coming into boxing wouldn’t be any good, but that’s probably an understatement.
“He’s going to have his own style and his own set of things he does. He’s got a game plan behind it and it’s not what people think. There’s a method to Conor’s madness,” he added.