Former two-division boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi sparred with Conor McGregor for the first time on Thursday night. The recently retired 36-year-old did “8 rounds of work” with the UFC champion, and he spoke about the “fun” experience helping him prepare to face Floyd Mayweather.
“I didn’t really go in with any expectations. I was told I would do 6, but I had a feeling it would go a little longer if it got good, and if it was what he needed,” Malignaggi told ESPN. “In the end, after the 6 rounds were done, we ended up doing a couple more. It was good work, and I look forward to helping him out a little more.
“It was good. It was educational,” he said. “There was a lot of trash talking, which me and him are both known to have a little bit. It was physical work, it was good work, and Conor is coming along.”
Good rounds last night with @TheNotoriousMMA. My code is sparring details stay in the gym. Look forward to helping him get ready for 8/26.
— Paul Malignaggi (@PaulMalignaggi) July 21, 2017
“In a championship camp, the sparring is intense, so I didn’t expect to go in there and it be a picnic,” Malignaggi said. “Conor is a competitor, I’m a competitor. We went in there and there was a lot of trash talking right away. There was a lot of fighting right away. In the end, you look back on it was kind of fun. I don’t have everybody that can match my trash talking, but Conor definitely can. So it was making it a lot of fun.”
Malignaggi also discussed McGregor’s unorthodox approach, and says his “championship caliber training team” has been devising a good game plan for Mayweather.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. To say that a mixed martial artist coming over to boxing wouldn’t be awkward, it would probably be kind of an understatement. He’s got his own style, and own set of things that he does.
“He’s got a game plan behind it,” Malignaggi said. “It’s not what people think. There’s a game plan behind what he’s doing. There’s a method to Conor’s madness.”
“He’s got some pop in the left hand,” he said. “So if you’re fighting Conor, you’re probably gonna prepare for that left hand. So obviously Conor is working on other things besides the left hand, so that there could be a surprise element to it, too.
“Without giving away too much, he’s effective at what he’s doing. He’s thinking. There’s a method behind the madness. He and his team are working at it. I’m sure it’ll be entertaining and fun.”
After 8 hard rounds and a lot of trash talk in the process, Malignaggi said he was able to sit down with McGregor after both of them relaxed and let their “guards down for a little bit.”
“Once the sparring was over, we had a good talk. It was cordial,” he said. “He expressed to me that he would like for me to stay for the rest of the camp, and we’ll continue to work. I was happy to be able to talk to him cordially. Before that, we haven’t really been cordial, including inside the ring.”
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