If Conor McGregor is looking to lace up a pair of boxing gloves again, Paulie Malignaggi is more than willing to come out of retirement and step up to the challenge.
The retired former world champion turned Showtime analyst made headlines after quitting as Conor McGregor’s sparring partner ahead of the Irishman’s fight with Floyd Mayweather, which McGregor lost by 10th round TKO. The dispute between the two parties started over leaked sparring photos that Malignaggi suggested were released to make him look bad. Since then, the two have fired verbal jabs in the media and had a brief altercation during the Mayweather-McGregor fight week.
But now that the megafight is over, the talk has shifted to what McGregor will do next. And Malignaggi is open to a boxing match, if that’s what McGregor wants to do.
“I think the fans want it and I think its a very sellable fight,” Malignaggi said, citing their already established feud. “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 [expletive] 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.”
A date that has been loosely connected to the fight is March 17, 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on St. Patrick’s Day. Obviously, with Malignaggi from nearby Bensonhurst and the large Irish contingency, this would likely be a huge fight. But there are many hurdles that need to be overcome in order to make that fight a reality including McGregor’s status with the UFC. But if there’s a way Malignaggi can lure McGregor into the bout, he’ll certainly put it out there.
“I’m all about it, man. I’ll make it winner-takes-all,” Malignaggi said. I’m willing to risk fighting him for free just to punch him in the mouth again and again and again. That’s how confident I am they can’t beat me.”
Ultimately, Malignaggi accused McGregor of quitting against Mayweather and questioned his vaunted power that didn’t seem to bother Mayweather in their fight on Saturday night. The former boxing champion figures he can do the same with McGregor if given the opportunity.
“A fighter is a fighter when faced with adversity,” Malignaggi said. “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.”
And with that, Malignaggi was willing to double down on his winner-take-all offer.
“If Conor doesn’t get stopped by me – and I’m a guy who doesn’t get a lot of stoppages – if Conor doesn’t get stopped by me I should get penalized at least a portion of my purse just for not stopping the guy.”