The lead-up to the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather was filled with drama, but you could argue the juiciest storyline wasn’t even between the two men. That title might belong to the shenanigans that transpired between the Irishman and his sparring partner retired former welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi.
There was plenty of bad blood between the duo in the weeks leading up to the fight, and the feud seemed to reach a boiling point when a friend of McGregor’s posted a picture of Malignaggi seemingly laid out on the canvas. The boxer denied he’d been knocked down and eventually quit before going on to claim he’d actually been the dominant fighter all along (the UFC eventually released video footage that seemed to refute his claims, but we’ll probably never know what really happened).
Malignaggi was one of the commentators during Saturday night’s fight, and while he was much more subdued when it came to criticizing McGregor, it appears that there’s still a fair amount of bad blood between the two. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, the boxer proclaimed he’d like to take McGregor on in an official bout, saying:
“I think the fans want it and I think it’s a very sellable fight. How bad does he want it? I’ll tell you this, he has most of the public perception that he got the better of me in sparring and he has them believing in that fucking knockdown. But we knows what happens if he fights me. He knows he sparred with me when I was only at 35-40 percent because I was retired and he knows the trouble he had with me.”
Malignaggi went on to challenge McGregor’s toughness, saying, “Anytime somebody gets Conor McGregor to that point of adversity in MMA or boxing, he punks out. You can’t teach that. Either you have balls or you don’t.” If the two men do end up fighting, the bout could theoretically take place at Barclay’s Center on St. Patrick’s Day, which would make sense considering Malignaggi’s roots in Brooklyn and McGregor’s fiercely loyal Irish fan base.