Conor McGregor sparred with several fighters leading up to his August boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, including Paulie Malignaggi. McGregor now claims that he knocked Malignaggi down during their workout, even releasing a photo of Malignaggi on the canvas.
Malignaggi’s response? Not quite.
“I think he’s a good salesman,” Malignaggi said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “I think anytime you are to be a good salesman, you have to take a little bit of truth and you have to know how to twist it in a way where the perception of it is always a lot better than it actually is. Anything he does, Conor understands this fact. It’s all about perception is reality.”
And that, Malignaggi said, was not a knockdown.
“He knows that wasn’t a knockdown,” Malignaggi said. “It was your everyday slip-slide pushdown. If you’re in a gym, where 100 sparring sessions a day happen, you’ll see that a handful of times a day. It’s your everyday slip-slide push, whatever you want to call it. That’s how it was reacted to inside the gym. Nobody reacted to it. We just continued and we got up and we just kept going, which is what you do in those moments. If somebody actually gets knocked down, you take a second, you give them a breather. That’s so rare. That never happens in a gym with big gloves and head gear. . . . For Conor, the con artist comes out for a person who understands the technique of punching. He doesn’t have any.”
Bill Reiter wondered if McGregor, 29, released the visual because he is worried about his image.
“He’s worried about his image, and obviously we all worry about our image to a degree,” said Malignaggi, 37. “But I think when you reach my age, image is just very fickle. The way you’re looked at today by the public could be the opposite tomorrow and it could be the opposite of that again the day after that. So you stop caring so much about your image. As long as I can pay my bills, I’m living comfortably, I have a good life, and I have people around me that are good people, I enjoy myself.”
Still, Malignaggi learned quite a bit about McGregor during their sparring sessions.
“Conor is big into the psychology of believing it and you’ll achieve it,” Malignaggi said. “You can tell (that by) the way he talks. There’s no way he’s this stupid. There’s no way he could have really thought he was going to punch Floyd’s head off the ground. But if he keeps talking it and all his minions around him keep cheering everything he says – I was in the gym with him. I was in the dressing room with him and I heard the things he said.”
According to Malignaggi, McGregor said he was going to knock Mayweather out with a punch to the temple.
“You know how many people have tried to do something so stupid?” Malignaggi asked. “The worst thing you can do to fight Floyd Mayweather is look for one shot. If you’re looking for any one shot against Floyd Mayweather, you’re already dead. You’re dead before you started. I remember thinking, ‘You moron. You utter moron.’ These are boxers, not mixed martial artists. For them to respect your striking ability is going to take an extra level of striking ability, of punching ability. A person can punch me in the face that you might think hits hard. But for me, I’ve been hit by so many other people, I have a better way to position how hard that punch was or not because my head is used to taking that kind of shot. I remember thinking, ‘How stupid can this guy be?’ I also thought his minions were a bunch of cheerleaders.”