As the fight draws near, camps have amped up their training, as well. From Conor McGregor’s end, it means more intensity in sparring sessions.
Hall-of-fame referee Joe Cortez, who was tapped by the Irishman’s camp for rule orientation and to oversee sparring, stated that McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi “got a little rough and out of control” in one of the recent times they were in the practice ring together. Malignaggi did corroborate Cortez’s statement when he spoke to ESPN.com on Wednesday.
“Lot of violence. I went in there to prove a point,” Malignaggi said. “I didn’t like the fact I had to fly across the country on Monday, and they have me scheduled for 12 [rounds] on Tuesday. I thought it was a little bit of a setup.”
“Usually all sparring is private. I show up at the UFC headquarters and Lorenzo Fertitta is there. Dana White is there. So, I’m thinking these guys are thinking they’ll catch me right off the flight, set me up for him to look good in front of his audience. I didn’t like that. I kind of went in with a chip on my shoulder.”
Malignaggi adds that McGregor always came in their sparring sessions to put up an actual fight, and not just drill and play around.
“Conor wants his presence to be felt. He’s coming to win, right? He wants you to know you’re in a fight,” Malignaggi said. “He doesn’t want you to think it’s a picnic. So, any time he’s in the ring, he’s trying to make it as rough as possible — be it roughhouse tactics, be it trying to land hard shots.”
“There was a pushdown yesterday. Conor on the inside, he can get a little rough. He shoved me down, you know, but no knockdowns. Obviously, 12 rounds, you’re gonna see there’s a mark on my face. Very, very hard work for both of us. I was starting to get in a groove in the middle rounds, starting to land some good shots. Conor really came on strong in the end. It was back and forth.”
Despite their rough play, Malignaggi recognized the improvements from McGregor since the last time they sparred a couple of weeks ago.
“I think the intensity Conor’s reaching is starting to show in the hard work he’s put into camp. I think he’s getting better and better. I really felt improvements from two weeks ago to now … I do see a guy who is implementing more and more of what they want to do in their game plan.”
The cordial relationship between Malignaggi and the McGregor camp is, however, short-lived. After a photo of Malignaggi supposedly being knocked down in sparring surfaced online, he has since demanded for the full unedited video to be released.
On Thursday night, he has decided to cut his ties with the McGregor team, after merely two training sessions.
Mayweather vs. McGregor happens on August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
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