Things didn’t go well between UFC champion Conor McGregor and former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi during their recent sparring sessions. Malignaggi stepped up and attempted to help out McGregor in preparation for his showdown with Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 live on Showtime pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the relationship between the two quickly took a turn for the worse after McGregor’s team leaked a photo suggesting Malignaggi was knocked down.
Now that some of the dust has settled and Malignaggi is putting himself in the public eye to address the “dirtbag” behavior of McGregor, other potential sparring partners are shying away from “Notorious.”
“I spoke to Andre Berto. Andre was supposed to go there and box on Saturday, and he changed his mind after seeing what happened with me,” Malignaggi said during a recent appearance on Cagesiders. “Everybody already knew what happened with Van Heerden, now he’s doing the same with me too. When word goes around that somebody is like that, even in regular life, you start to alienate (people).”
Berto, 33, fought Mayweather for 12 rounds back in 2015. The former WBC welterweight champion ended up losing via unanimous decision, but he could have showed McGregor a thing or two about fighting the most elusive boxer of all time. According to Malignaggi, McGregor is starting to rub people the wrong way and could be preventing himself from sparring with top-flight partners like Berto in the future.
“He’s going to have trouble getting any help in boxing, because the sneaky tactics, the sneaky qualities that he has now can no longer be looked at as a coincidence,” Malignaggi said. “With the Van Heerden situation, like maybe he didn’t know how the ethics work in boxing, maybe he still had to learn, or now that he has learned, everything will be okay.
“I think the cat’s out of the bag with Conor McGregor in boxing, now that he’s tried this again, with sneaky tactics. You spar, and let me put in sneaky pictures, or make sneaky videos in Van Heerden’s case and let me spin it.”
Malignaggi is confused as to why McGregor would post “sneaky” pictures online in the first place. The UFC superstar is one of the biggest names in combat sports today and really doesn’t need the extra publicity, especially if it comes at the expense of a training partner or has a good chance of backfiring.
“I just don’t think it’s really necessary,” Malignaggi explained. “Conor McGregor’s name was pretty big when he boxed Van Heerden. I think Conor McGregor’s name was pretty big when he sparred me, obviously. I don’t think he needed to spin that sparring into any direction to make his name bigger.
“There was no need to do that, but all it’s done is ruin his reputation. I don’t think he’ll be able to get big name help at any point in his boxing career. But at the end of the day, it was definitely something that has hurt his ability to work with contacts — or have contacts in boxing.”
With limited elite sparring partners at his disposal, McGregor is going to truly have his work cut out for him on Aug. 26 when he tangles with Mayweather in his professional boxing debut. Of course, “Notorious” has been surprising naysayers his entire career and may very well prove once again why he’s considered Mystic Mac.