Paulie Malignaggi Gets Sucker Punched
By: Patrick Mascoe
Showtime Boxing has fired boxing analyst, Paulie Malignaggi because of his comments regarding the topic of racism. Malignaggi openly discussed what he saw as a clear double standard when it comes to racist rhetoric in boxing. WBC Lightweight Champion, Devin Haney, was talking about a potential matchup with Vasiliy Lomachenko, “Listen, can’t no white boy beat me, I don’t care, on any day of the week. I fight a white boy like 10 times, I’m gonna beat him 10 times.” Haney followed his comments up by saying he’s not racist. Despite what Haney may believe his comments were directed specifically at one race and his use of the term “boy” was meant to be derogatory.
Back in 2007, Bernard Hopkins said the same thing before facing Joe Calzaghe. “I would never let a white boy beat me. I would never lose to a white boy.” There was no backlash at the time and Hopkins was never called out for his comments. However, he did proceed to go out and lose the fight by way of a split decision. Malignaggi pointed out that if a white boxer ever said something like that directed at a boxer of color he would be crucified. It’s hard to disagree with Malignaggi on this point.
Paulie Malignaggi is a very good boxing commentator, he is not a Sociology professor. His lens and view of society is based on his position as a former boxer and boxing commentator. The comment that probably got him in the most trouble was his opinion that racial oppression has existed but that Haney’s comments are an example that racial oppression is exaggerated.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Malignaggi’s opinion, it is simply his opinion. It is also an opinion that is shared by a number of scholars, journalists and politicians of color. However, Paulie Malignaggi was fired because of his opinion. It’s highly ironic when you think about it; Malignaggi was fired over controversial remarks on racism while calling Devin Haney out because of his derogatory racially insensitive comments. Haney has never offered an apology, nor has anyone asked him to clarify his statements.
Devon Haney has faced no repercussions for his comments, yet, the man who called him out has been fired by Showtime Boxing. Paulie Malignaggi claimed that there is a double standard in boxing when it comes to racist rhetoric. Again, based on what has happened to Paulie and what has happened to Devin, it is hard to disagree with Malignaggi.
Perhaps, Paulie Malignaggi, would still be with Showtime Boxing had he Tweeted out an insincere message stating, “I’m not racist.”
Bare Knuckle FC: Artem Lobov Arrives with Victory Over Paulie Malignaggi
By: Jesse Donathan
Things didn’t exactly go as planned this past weekend at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) for Paulie Malignaggi, with “Magic Man” coming up short on the judge’s scorecards in a unanimous decision loss to former UFC mixed martial artist and Conor McGregor confidant Artem Lobov. The notoriously bad blood between McGregor and Malignaggi helped set the stage for Malignaggi’s showdown with “The Russian Hammer” Lobov, which ultimately found its roots in leaked sparring sessions to the press of selectively edited footage between the Irishmen and “Magic Man” depicting McGregor getting the better of the exchanges in the leadup to McGregor’s mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Bitter and embarrassed, Malignaggi has went on a public relations campaign to set the record straight about McGregor since and has had quite a bit to say about MMA’s fervent fanbase along the way. “I think of it like, thank god that this fan base in MMA is so (expletive) stupid that they actually have made this possible,” Malignaggi told MMAFighting.com. “They’re very cartoonish, very out there,” said Malignaggi in comparing mixed martial arts fans to their professional wrestling counterparts.
In the aftermath of Malignaggi’s “wafer-thin” loss to Lobov, mixed martial arts fans across the internet had a field day with the Brooklyn, New York native. The promotional ground work Malignaggi laid in the leadup to the fight with Lobov obviously effective, with Malignaggi reportedly being crushed by the fight world in the aftermath of his defeat. This was a public relations success for BKFC despite the otherwise lackluster main event performance and one which will surely pay dividends later down the line.
The first round between Malignaggi and Lobov was little more than a feeling out process, there wasn’t much in the way of action from either fighter and a pretty good case could be made for it being scored 10-10 as a result. Things would start to pick up in the second, with Malignaggi coming alive and putting his hands on Lobov’s face. The fact of the matter is the entire fight was kind of disappointing, but the second and third rounds belonged to Malignaggi who was the more active fighter in the ring. The last two rounds however were quite obviously Artem Lobov rounds, with the Russian showing a pulse at the beginning of the fourth stanza and doing enough to steal the round 10-9.
The fifth and final round was also obviously a Lobov round, with Malignaggi putting little together in the way of offense which may have been the result of his notoriously fragile hands breaking. Despite little to no offense, Malignaggi displayed great footwork but with his lack of offensive output it’s difficult to come to any other conclusion than it being a 10-9 Lobov round.
In determining the outcome of the fight, I would score it a draw personally though it likely does boil down to how one perceives the results of the opening two minutes of the fight. Unfortunately, the judges saw it differently with Artem Lobov winning a unanimous decision victory, leaving Malignaggi in disbelief, searching for answers. The former junior welterweight and welterweight champion reportedly signed a two-year contract with BKFC according to ESPN, but following his loss to Lobov Saturday night the former two-division champion once again hung up his gloves.
It was an uphill battle for Malignaggi from the start, the aging 38-year old former champion has a lot of miles on the road and is at the twilight of his career. Having already retired once, everyone knew Malignaggi didn’t have much left in the gas tank and as such leaving the arena Saturday night victorious without having stopped Lobov dead in his tracks simply wasn’t going to happen. Always a fighter to wear his heart on his sleeve, the vibrato coming from a retired but victorious Malignaggi in maligning the remaining fighters under BKFC contract wouldn’t have been nearly as much of a promotional success as the alternative. And the rest is history as they say with Malignaggi riding off into the sun set with some very hard pills to swallow for his efforts.
Interestingly, earlier in the night reports surfaced on social media indicating not everything was on the up-and-up at BKFC 6 prior to the main event. According to reports, “Rumor has it Paulie had something on his hands and got caught,” reads the social media post originating from former UFC juggernaut Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
“Commission and president of Bare Knuckle seen rushing to the back where the locker rooms were once they heard about the incident…Came back with a disappointed look on their face,” reads another post from the verified Instagram account.
“If you’re going to hide something, this is the place,” said Freddie Roach in a November 12, 2010 NYTimes article titled, “Hand Wraps Draw Boxings Eye, and Scrutiny,” by author Greg Bishop. Though a bare knuckle contest, the athletes fighting under the BKFC banner were required to wear hand wraps for additional support.
Whether it was loaded wraps or not, a bareknuckle version of plaster of Paris, it’s tough to say. The fight obviously went on as scheduled and ultimately played out a success as social media was alive in dancing over Malignaggi’s grave after the former two-division world champion talked himself in front of the firing squad. Whether Malignaggi was purposely working the promotional angle or simply being himself, the end result was the same. “Magic Man” will be on the lips and tongues of fans for long to come as the road Malignaggi paved for BKFC continues to draw interest from both the boxing and mixed martial arts communities fascinated with the blast from the past.
Former UFC Champion Michael Bisping Takes Issue with Malignaggi’s Sense of Style
By: Jesse Donathan
According to a May 25, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Michael Bisping: ‘Tw-t’ Paulie Malignaggi ‘deserves to die’ for wearing fedora to BKFC press conference,” author Harry Davies writes that former UFC middleweight champion Michael “The Count” Bisping took issue with of all things, Paulie Malignaggi’s sense of style. According to Davies, “Speaking earlier this week on his ‘Believe You Me’ podcast, the worst part about the press conference for Bisping was Malignaggi’s fedora hat.”
“Any mother (expletive) that shows up wearing a hat like that deserves to die. It’s as simple as that,” writes bloodyelbow.com, quoting Bisping’s off-the-cuff remarks. According to “The Count,” Paulie Malignaggi, “… looks like a villain out of the Dick Tracy movie.”
Davies would go on to write of Bisping’s estimation of the image Malignaggi conjured up on camera that, “He might as well have had a pinstripe suit on, that big stupid gangster hat. Oh my god, it did not look good.”
Agree with Bisping or not, I will always have a great deal of respect for the former champion because he paid the price to be a prize fighter. According to a December 11, 2018 “JRE Clips” YouTube video titled, “Michael Bisping on His Eye Injury | Joe Rogan,” Bisping told the longtime MMA personality that he has a corrective lens in his right eye. “It’s a prosthetic,” Bisping told Rogan. Though interestingly enough, according to the former UFC great he does have a tiny amount of vision through his corrective lens despite it being a prosthetic.
“The injury, as Bisping explained it, is nothing new,” writes MMAFighting.com’s Shaun Al-Shatti in his September 30, 2013 article titled, “Michael Bisping ‘devastated’ by detached retina that nearly derailed his career.” According to Al-Shatti, “Back in May, doctors discovered that, astonishingly, Bisping competed in consecutive fights against Vitor Belfort and Alan Belcher with a detached retina in his right eye.”
“Bisping, who won the title against Luke Rockhold in June 2016 and defended it once against Dan Henderson in November 2016,” announced his retirement last year according to a March 28, 2018 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Michael Bisping announces retirement from MMA after issues with other eye.” Author Nick Baldwin would go on to write that, “Bisping holds the record for most UFC wins (20) and most UFC fights (29),” including a win over UFC legend Anderson Silva.
Whether you agree with Bisping or not, Malignaggi showing up looking like a gangster from the early 20th century managed to garner a rebuke from “The Count” himself. Malignaggi set out to do exactly what he ultimately did, which is capture the headlines in the leadup to his bout with former UFC fighter Artem Lobov and that is exactly what he has done. Mission accomplished.
And interestingly enough, MMA itself has a rich history of fighters using theatrical entrances and interesting attire, particularly in Japan, which managed to help fighters get over into underground cult hero status among many fans of the era. So, it is not as if MMA is above taking a page out of Hollywood’s book either.
While Malignaggi, a two-time world champion professional boxer has a long way to go to reach cult hero status, it certainly doesn’t hurt to create an image for yourself and look the part of a ruthless assassin in the leadup to your fight.
Malignaggi is doing his part to sell the bout, managing to capture the public’s imagination for not only the things he does, but also the things he says and even the clothes he wears. This is the fight promotion game, as astonishing as it may be, this is exactly what it takes to get the fight out in front of the publics eyes and ultimately increase interest among perspective ticket buyers.
“Things at the press conference started to spiral out of control when Malignaggi hit Lobov over the head with a microphone,” writes bloodyelbow.com. According to author Nick Baldwin, Malignaggi later, “threatened to break Lobov’s teeth and urinate in his mouth.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, Malignaggi justified his remarks and behavior by taking issue with the mixed martial art community and in particular sentiments from those he felt were disrespectful to the sweet science. And in amongst the sea of ridiculous, borderline insane behavior and remarks from Malignaggi were some small cornels of truth.
“See, in Malignaggi’s mind, there’s an ongoing dispute between the worlds of MMA and boxing, and the core issue is a disagreement over which sport is more dangerous,” writes MMAJunkie.com’s Ben Fowlkes in his May 21, 2019 article titled, “What are Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov really selling, and are we seriously going to buy it?”
Author Ben Fowlkes would go on to write that, ““At the end of the day, no matter what happens to you guys, (tapping) assures you you’re gonna see that guy next week,” Malignaggi said at Monday’s press conference.” With Malignaggi ultimately pointing to the string of ruined lives and dead bodies in boxings wake as proof no such guarantees exist in the sweet science.
According to Malignaggi, “In boxing, you don’t have those assurances, so there’s a respect level even to the trash talk that we have, and it’s being surpassed now, it’s being overcome with this garbage that we have from this other community.” Meaning the mixed martial arts community.
According to MMAJunkie.com, the way Malignaggi sees it, “For me, I think the way you solve it, seeing one of their own in a coma, seeing one of their own in a (expletive) coffin.”
Given Malignaggi’s recent behavior and remarks condemning the MMA community, its little wonder he is getting some attention from former UFC champions like Michael Bisping who are looking for anything they can to knock the brazen professional boxer on. Fighters like Bisping didn’t escape a career in mixed martial arts without serious injury themselves; though it helps to remember that while they are two different sports this is still the hurt business no matter which rule set you’re fighting under.
Paging John L: Paulie Malignaggi To Take Up Bare Knuckle Fighting
By: Sean Crose
There’s old school fighters, and then there’s really old school fighters. Brooklyn’s own Paulie Malignaggi is now a really old school fighter. For the retired two division belt holder has signed on with an organization called the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, the nature of whose business can be found in its very name – bare knuckle fighting. The 36-8 Malignaggi last laced up the gloves for a professional fight in 2017 when he was stopped by Sam Eggington in England. He’ll be fighting again this year, however, just without the gloves. The date of Malignaggi’s first bare knuckle brawl has yet to be announced. Malignaggi, one of the sport’s more colorful individuals, is 38 years of age.
Bare knuckle boxing once dominated the landscape. Figures like John L Sullivan ruled the sporting scene of the late 1800s by engaging in grueling affairs like Sullivan’s seventy-plus round brawl with Jake Kilrain in 1889. After Sullivan was met and bested in September of 1892 by a younger, slicker James J Corbett, in the first heavyweight gloved fight, the bareknuckle era found itself down for the count. Until, apparently, now. Should he prove successful in this endeavor, Malignaggi will arguably be the first well known bare knuckle brawler since Benjamin Harrison was President of the United States. Word has yet to arrive as to whether or not Malignaggi will begin sporting a handlebar moustache.
Best known as a top fighter who prowled the welterweight and junior welterweight divisions, Malignaggi won the IBF junior welterweight title and the WBA welterweight title, respectively. Throughout this ring career, Malignaggi faced off against a who’s who of big name competition. Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Zab Judah were all Malignaggi opponents at one time or other.
Malignaggi has fairly recently earned a reputation as a top level broadcaster for Showtime Boxing and Britain’s Sky Sports, where his in-depth, experienced knowledge of the fight game, coupled with his fast talking, intelligent style have made him a popular figure. Malignaggi engaged in a highly publicized feud with Conor McGregor in 2017 after he agreed to help train the Irishman for his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, only to find video footage of himself appearing in a less than flattering light made public by McGregor’s team. Since that time, Malignaggi has largely stuck to broadcasting fights, though he recently could be seen working in James DeGale’s corner during the super middleweight’s bout against Chris Eubank Jr.
McGregor and Malignaggi in Talks?
By: Michael Kane
Could Conor McGregor be making a return to boxing this year?
Rumors are starting to spread in the UK and Ireland that suggest it may be likely.
Several boxing and MMA sites have said they have it from credible sources that discussions about a McGregor v Paulie Malignaggi fight have begun. The Sun newspaper today announced that the pair were in talks.
There has been a long running feud between the two fighters, ever since footage was leaked of a McGregor-Malignaggi sparring practice in the build up to the McGregor v Mayweather bout in 2017. In the footage it appeared Malignaggi had been floored by McGregor, this was dismissed by Malignaggi, who claims he was pushed. He then left McGregor’s training camp and has continually took to social media to vent against McGregor and his team.
McGregor returned to the UFC and was soundly defeated by lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, submitting in the 4th round. Before this bout it was reported that McGregor had signed a multi fight deal to compete on the UFC.
Could the fight take place as part of a Zuffa Boxing promotion, a move Dana White, the UFC President has mooted in the past. The UFC also made moves into boxing by recently signing a deal with Roy Jones Jr Boxing Promotions to show events live on UFC Fight Pass.
Whether this fight comes to fruition, time will tell. Is it a fight boxing aficionados would savour? I doubt it.
Knockdowns, Concussions, Bruises and Egos – Mayweather, McGregor, and Malignaggi
By G.E. Simons
As we move into the final countdown cycle of McMayweather Inc., the
sub-narrative raised and incubated by a facially grazed Paulie Malignaggi this past week, is a timely reminder that surreal as this event is, there is actually a very real final outcome.
The debate has exclusively swirled around the validity of the encounter between the world’s greatest living boxer and the world’s most significant mixed martial artist, whilst the cartoon verbal violence has dazzle-shipped the real violence out of the conversation.
Whatever the validity of their ultimate sharing of a boxing ring, in gloves of as yet confirmed ounce weight, this will be a real and physical encounter between two real athletes who will be trading real punches that cause real damage.
Combat sports, whatever their rule set, are no joke.
Just because Conor McGregor looks like a glistening avatar who has just stepped out of Xbox gameplay. And just because Floyd Mayweather is a walking talking brand experience doesn’t mean that the night of August 26th is a live video game streaming for the amusement of the Black Mirror generation.
There is a fight coming and there are ongoing preparations to be made. It is a testament to his confidence and loyalty that McGregor has largely surrounded himself with his usual training team, helmed by Head Coach John Kavanagh and Striking Coach Owen Roddy.
The broader Team has included sparring partners in Irish amateur phenom Tiernan Bradley, journeyman professional yet noted spar-hand Dashon Johnson and unbeaten London welterweight Louis Adolphe.
But it was the simmering addition of former world champion and seasoned campaigner Paulie Malignaggi that has caused real intrigue, insight and inquisition this past week.
The recently retired Malignaggi could have actually been an ideal addition to the Las Vegan leg of final preparations bringing experience, craft and a forensic analytical approach to the sport, but from the off the whole thing felt, off.
Back in December 2016, McGregor was granted a boxing license in California with that news met with a mixture of negativity, amusement and bristling anger by the boxing community.
This included Paulie Malignaggi who posted a video via Twitter which culminated in his saying “I know you apologised about absolutely nothing last fight, but after I am done with you, I am going to knock the beard off you homie, you are going to be apologising for everything you have been trying to do to get into boxing.”
“Who the f*ck is that guy?” was Conor’s reply at an Irish Q&A event days later.
Fast-forward to the early summer of 2017 and Mayweather boxing McGregor at a catchweight of 154lbs is confirmed for 26th August 2017 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.
Los Angeles. Toronto. New York. London.
As the violent vaudeville of the MayMac promotional tour came to an end, McGregor confirmed that Malignaggi would indeed be drafted in for some work, “Yeah. Look Paulie talked a lot of sh*t. he’s been brought in to spar and then he’ll answer to what he’s been saying and then we’ll go from there after that. But we’re gonna have a knock in the gym.”
Forget tapping into Paulie’s experience, craft and analytical skills then – this was McGregor looking to reprimand Malignaggi on his turf and in tough terms.
So, it was surely only Malignaggi’s ego and of course his obvious desire to continue nudging for a pension boosting PPV of his own with McGregor, that got him on the plane, then into that headguard before stepping into a UFC Performance Institute ring…
Since his London defeat to Sam Eggington on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s feature attraction with David Haye back in March, Paulie Malignaggi has gone from being the part time Magic Man to the full time Media Man and good at it he is too – but magic is one thing pure illusion is another.
They sparred twice.
First time Malignaggi emerged suggesting that McGregor “Was not very likeable.” That “It got a little rough, it got a little tense.” And “He brings his game face to sparring.”
Yet still he returned for more.
“There was a lot of violence.” Malignaggi told ESPN of the second session. “I thought I was a little bit set up.”
Of course he was. In fact, not so much set up as he served himself up.
Team McGregor’s next move was the Instagram posting of images which showed the American on the canvas in what appeared to be a knockdown.
“It’s all about his status, he’s a scumbag.” Malignaggi told the MMA Hour Podcast.
“He pushed me down during one of his worst rounds.” He continued by way of addressing the images of him downed.
This interview being the most comprehensive of what had been a Malignaggi Media Tour to rival the global MayMac endeavour, where he appeared on pretty much any platform that would have him to reiterate amongst other things that he was pushed down.
Now at least edited once it is, but Dana White’s subsequent release of around 10 seconds of sparring footage clearly shows McGregor connecting and Paulie falling.
There was no push, a punch put Malignaggi down and he is one Uomo Duro or he certainly once was.
Now we know this is all part of the broader promotional galaxy. There are lots of things orbiting. There are lots of layers. The narrative has to be driven and driven hard right up to the final moment of PPV click commit.
But there is ultimately a fight in August at the heart of all this thoroughly modern Sportstainment.
As Tiernan Bradley told The Irish News “Conor told us all when Paulie came into camp, this is not a spar. I want to fight him. I’m ready for war.”
Malignaggi had his own agenda too. No problem. But savvy as he is and as keen as he is to align himself to the McGregor freight train, it was obvious what was coming and the level of his surprise gives credence to Conor’s suggestion that he left the camp with head trauma as well as a bruised ego and grazed face.
So, for all of the Polar Bear Minks and Drake filling the links. For all the Eejit Bitch jibes and the F@ck You pinstripes. For all the Handmade Suits and TMT branded Tracksuits…
…Don’t forget that as American playwright David Belasco once said, “Boxing is show business with blood.” – We’ve had the show business and soon there will be blood.
For that, there has to be respect.
Follow G.E. Simons on Twitter @BrawlingWithInk
Paulie Malignaggi Leaves Team McGregor – On Bad Terms
By: Sean Crose
In what should come as a surprise to no one, former two time boxing titlist Paulie Malignaggi is at odds with the Conor McGregor camp. McGregor, who is in training for an extremely lucrative novelty boxing match with retired pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather, had brought on Malignaggi as a sparing partner – at least ostensibly. Now, however, it appears to Malignaggi at least that McGregor wanted to “exploit” the popular fighter/television announcer for his own aggrandizement. Pictures have emerged online of McGregor seemingly getting the better of Malignaggi in the ring, pictures which Malignaggi claims tell a false tale.
“I pretty much talked s–t that whole sparring session while I beat the breaks off him,” Malignaggi tweeted Friday morning. “The push down was his frustration from it.” The “push down” Malignaggi refers to can be interpreted in one of the online photos as a knockdown on the part of McGregor. For in the picture, it’s Malignaggi on the canvas while McGregor is on his feet. Sure enough, Malignaggi has challenged the UFC, the mixed martial arts league which McGregor is a part of, to publish video of an entire twelve round sparing session the two men had (presumably the session where the pictures emerged from). “The video exists UNEDITED of rounds 1 through 12 Tuesday night,” Malignaggi tweeted, “let the fans see.”
That, frankly, is not likely to happen, at least not until after the fight between McGregor and Mayweather goes down on August 26th. In the meantime, Malignaggi has left the McGregor camp – and clearly not on good terms. “Hate to say it,” Malignaggi tweeted, “but it’s clear when I look back at my time there that there was an agenda from the start, too many clues.” If Malignaggi was, in fact, set up in all of this, it comes to some as no surprise. The popularity of McGregor rests largely on his ability to appear as a less than respectful loud mouth. His abrasive – some would say antisocial – antics are as much a part of the man’s reputation as are his skills in the octagon, the aptly named fenced in area where most MMA bouts are held.
Oddly enough, abrasiveness is a major selling point in what many believe is more a pop culture event than a legitimate sporting contest. Mayweather has mellowed in recent years, but he was – and remains – a household name in part by engaging in obnoxious, over the top rhetoric. It’s a tactic McGregor has taken hold of in his own combat sport and run with – to enormous success. Now both men may well earn nine figures a piece for their showdown, which many feel will not be competitive, as McGregor has never once engaged in a professional boxing match. Both the Mayweather and McGregor camps, however, have been trying to sell the public on McGregor’s chances in the ring later this month.
Not that the public needs to be sold. McGregor has an enormous, nearly cult-like following in awe of his abilities, whether those abilities are merely perceived or are, in fact, real. It’s arguable that most everyone else interested in the bout, however, views it more as a spectacle than as a sporting contest or are simply unaware of the differences between a boxing match and a mixed martial arts contest. In short, Malignaggi’s public airing of his grievances may only add to hype.
McGregor, Malignaggi, Mayweather, and the Boxing/MMA Divide
McGregor, Malignaggi, Mayweather, and the Boxing/MMA Divide
By: David J. Kozlowski
Last week, MMA-star Conor McGregor was granted a boxing license by the California State Athletic Commission, allowing him to box professionally in California. This as an alternative to chasing big-money fights in Las Vegas, for which he would need a Nevada boxing license, a license which the Nevada State Athletic Commission has denied.
Immediately, speculation turned to a fight between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. This despite Mayweather not fighting in 2016 and not being a serious contender on any current pound-for-pound top ten. But he is still the biggest draw in boxing, and the zero in his 49-0 record is an attractive target for someone like McGregor who wants to make an immediate impact in the sport.
McGregor has called Mayweather out before. Conventional wisdom has been that Mayweather waits until an opponent is at his weakest to accept a fight, here, the 28-year-old McGregor is at his weakest right now—before he’s had time to acclimate to boxing.
Every MMA fighter’s problem when moving to the squared circle is the significant stylistic differences between MMA and boxing. The stance is more upright in boxing, and MMA fighters who transition to boxing need to learn how to stand up. The guard is different—in boxing, hands are held high to defend the head. Boxing also places heavy reliance on blocking, whereas MMA barely allows for blocking due to the smaller gloves, which allow even blocked strikes to land. There’s different footwork as well—MMA fighters keep wider, lower stances to help avoid takedowns. Finally, the punching motion itself is different (torqueing the hips). None of this speaks to strategic differences—for example, boxers understand that body work is a long-term strategy to winning by decision or late kayo.
For McGregor, the path to Mayweather, if there is one, should be through an established fighter he believes can’t hurt him. Enter Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi.
If McGregor can box (he was a youth boxing champ in Ireland), Malignaggi is a good choice for a first fight. He’s never had power, compiling a 36-7 record with only 4 knock-outs. At 36, Malignaggi is the slowest he’s been in his career. But he’s scrappy and has had a good enough chin to go the distance. He’s also riding a three-fight winning streak, and is one of the better known boxing names in the general sports world. The fight would draw viewers, would test McGregor’s stamina, and is unlikely to pose a knock-out risk.
Malignaggi didn’t waste time calling McGregor out. The Magic Man released a video in which he says, “At first I’m tellin’ Conor to stay in his lane; I’m thinkin’ you know what, you’re gonna embarrass yourself … After I’m done with you, I’m gonna knock the beard off you, homie; you’re gonna be apologizing for everything you’ve been trying to do.”
While one of McGregor’s strengths is getting into his opponents’ heads, he loses that advantage with Malignaggi. There’s no chance Malignaggi, who’s fought some of the hardest hitters at his weight, gets intimidated by McGregor. McGregor’s response to Malignaggi’s challenge was essentially a thickly accented, “Who the fuck is that guy?” To which Malignaggi responded in a tweet: “The guy whos gonna beat the “fook” outta u so bad you’ll hate yourself for even THINKING u could box at a high level.”
Maybe McGregor will actually take the bait and fight Malignaggi. It would be a good move—safe but notable, and lucrative. If so, it will be an interesting test of McGregor’s foray into the sweet science. And if he wins convincingly enough, but not too convincingly, he might just be able to draw Mayweather out and get a big payday against the biggest Money fighter of them all.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Santa Cruz vs. Frampton, Garcia vs. Rojas
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Santa Cruz vs. Frampton, Garcia vs. Rojas
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) will put on a stacked card on Showtime and Showtime Extreme live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The main event of the evening will feature a WBA Featherweight Title bout between Mexican brawler Leo Santa Cruz and Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton. This is one of the best bouts that could be made in the featherweight division.
Mikey Garcia, who is returning from an extended layoff, will be returning to the ring since formally splitting from Top Rank in a tune up fight against Elio Rojas in the co-main event of the evening.
The undercard is also stacked and will feature several good bouts. Sergey Rabchnko and Tony Harrison will compete in an IBF Junior Middleweight eliminator. Paulie Malignaggi will face fellow Brooklyn native Gabriel Bracero in a welterweight bout, and Philadelphia native Tevin Farmer will face the tough Ivan Redkach in a lightweight bout.
The following is a preview of the main event and co-main event of the evening.
Mikey Garcia (34-0) vs. Elio Rojas (24-2); Junior Welterweights
Mikey Garcia has not fought in over two years, and the last time he was in the ring he was fighting in the super featherweight division. He is jumping up two weight classes and normally ring rust would be a major factor going into this fight. However, his opponent Elio Rojas fought zero times in 2015, once in 2014, and zero times in 2013 and will also be experiencing ring rust. Rojas also last fought in the featherweight weight class.
Garcia is five years younger than Rojas, but will be giving up two inches in reach. Garcias is the more powerful puncher and has stopped twenty eight of his opponents, and won three of his last five fights by KO/TKO. Rojas only has fourteen stoppage victories on his resume, and only has one stoppage win in his past five fights.
Both boxers had good amateur careers. Rojas won the bronze medal in the World Championships as an amateur and won gold medals in various regional amateur tournaments. Garcia is a bronze medalist in the National Golden Gloves and a Silver Medalist in the US PAL Cadet Championships.
Rojas is a former WBC Featherweight World Champion. His biggest wins were against Takahiro Ao and Guty Espadas. His losses were to Jhonny Gonzalez and Gamaliel Diaz.
Garcia has a much more impressive professional resume. He has defeated, easily, the likes of Juan Carlos Burgos, Roman Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Orlando Salido, and Jonathan Victor Barros.
Garcia had a long and expensive fight with Top Rank Promotions to be let out of his contract, and his inactivity might be evident in the ring. However, Top Rank fought so hard with Garcia because he is an elite talent with a growing fan base.
If Garcia was fighting a legitimate junior welterweight contender, his inactivity and smaller size might be of worry. However, he’s fighting a boxer who is also making the jump up weight classes and has also been very inactive.
This is a bout that Garcia should win, quite easily.
Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1) vs. Carl Frampton (22-0); WBA Featherweight Title
The main event of the evening is an excellent matchup and one of the best fights that could be made in the featherweight division.
Santa Cruz has expressed interest in moving up in weight after this bout, and he has the frame to pack on a few more pounds without sacrificing too much in performance. Santa Cruz is two and a half inches taller than Frampton and will have an imposing seven inch reach advantage.
Both boxers have similar knockout ratios. Santa Cruz has stopped eighteen opponents in thirty three fights, while Frampton has stopped fourteen opponents in twenty two fights. However, Santa Cruz has three stoppage wins in his past five fights while Frampton has two stoppage wins in his past five fights.
Both boxers have also been fairly active. They both fought once in 2016, and Frampton fought twice in 2015 while Santa Cruz fought three times in 2015.
Both boxers had some moderate success as an amateur. Santa Cruz was a Gold Medalist in the International Junior Olympics Tournament and a Silver Medalist in the US National Championships. Frampton was an Irish National Champion as an amateur and had moderate success on the international stage as an amateur.
Santa Cruz has defeated the likes of Kiko Martinez, Abner Mares, Jesus Ruiz, Cristian Mijares, Victor Terrazas, and Eric Morel. Frampton has defeated the likes of Scott Quigg, Chris Avalos, Alejandro Gonzalez, Kiko Martinez (twice), and Steve Molitor.
The seven inch reach advantage will likely play a huge factor on Saturday night. Santa Cruz is also a volume puncher, and that will make it very difficult for Frampton to get within his range and inflict damage upon his opponent.
Santa Cruz is not known for his defensive abilities, but his nonstop offense is his best defense. This bout will likely go all twelve rounds, and Frampton will likely have a large number of fans from the United Kingdom in attendance, but Santa Cruz has to be considered the favorite to walk away the victor.