Upon returning to Las Vegas, Malignaggi surprisingly quit the training camp. One of the reasons was that Malignaggi sensed that he was being set up by McGregor’s camp who had informed him that they would spar for 12 rounds during their 3rd session, which is uncommon for a sparring partner.
“I land in Vegas and they tell me, ‘you’re going 12 (rounds) tomorrow’,” Malignaggi told Ariel Helwani during The MMA Hour .
“Now, for people who aren’t familiar with a training camp, no one is ever expected to do 12 straight (rounds). The fighter in camp does 12 straight, but when the fighter in camp does 12 straight, he alternates (sparring partners).
“Doing it like that you’re gaining two things; you have the sparring partners all at their best and, like I said, (the fighter in camp) gets uncomfortable – you have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable at times.
“By the time you get to the third (sparring partner), you’re tiring, you’re uncomfortable. And the (sparring partner) is fresh, he’s looking to beat the crap out of you, you know?”
Malignaggi did confirm that he was very tired after their first 8 rounds of sparring and sensed that McGregor believed he would be a sitting duck during their sessions the longer it went.
“In his mind, he was probably thinking, ‘Paulie had a rough time getting through eight (rounds), let’s set him up for 12 (rounds),” he said.
Malignaggi was also shocked to find an audience, mainly of McGregor’s entourage and business associates after being told that sparring session would remain private. That made Malignaggi believe that McGregor wanted to put on a show.
“I get to the gym the next day and he has all kinds of dignitaries there,” Malignaggi said. “He’s got Lorenzo Fertitta there, he’s got Dana White there, he’s got his agent there (Audie Attar), he’s got a couple of other people I don’t know there.
“Another thing checked off in my mind because usually sparring is so private I couldn’t even bring in a trainer for my corner. I’d just have his sparring partners work my corner,” he explained.
“It was so private that you had to leave your phone in a box so nobody could sneak pictures or record. It was so tight, yet he had some dignitaries come in on this day.
“Again, I was thinking to myself, this guy is going to try and stop me tonight. He’s banking on catching a guy that could barely go eight and had a tough time doing the right the first time. He’s brought in all these dignitaries because they can speak about how great he looks at my expense.
“I was angry, but I knew that I came ready this time.”
Malignaggi said that McGregor did get the best of him only for the first 5 rounds of their second session. Even though he says McGregor had improved from their first session, by the time the 6th round came around, Malignaggi was growing stronger and stronger.
“He hung tough the first five rounds,” the longtime boxer said. “He came out sharper, with more of a purpose. He hung tough for the first rounds, he even landed a couple of good shots, but I was starting to take over.
“My work was more consistent. My style was more consistent. My counter punching was sharper. My jab was sharper. There was just more consistency on my part.”
“Here’s the thing, people ask me did he get better from the first to the second time — he did,” Malignaggi said. “The thing is, this is still something new to him, so the increments at which he is growing at are still smaller.
“I’ve done this for 20 years of my life, so from one sparring session to another to another, the rate at which I progress is a lot faster because the muscle memory comes back. The reaction and timing starts to come back at a faster and faster rate.
“Even if he got better from the first sparring, I got way better from the first sparring. And on the third and fourth one, I would’ve got better and better. By the end of camp, this guy would’ve understood after two sparring (sessions), that his ass was going to get beat for the rest of camp.”
Malignaggi felt that by the 7th round, one of McGregor’s worst according to the retired boxer that he was clearly on top. It was in the 8th, the 9th or 10th round of the second session that the controversial rumored knock down occurred.
“After seven (rounds), which was one of his worst rounds, he sits there and he tells me, ‘7-0 to me’.
“I remember walking back to my corner and yelling back at him, I said, ‘whatever school you went to they didn’t teach you how to count!’
“I was feeling so good that I start yelling at Dana White ringside. I started saying, This is the bitch you brought me here?’ I said, ‘24 hours ago I was on a flight’. Then I lied a bit, I said, ‘Last week I didn’t do anything’ — I did workout that week, but of course, I wanted to pump myself up.
“I knew that Conor heard me across the ring. Dana didn’t acknowledge it with any kind of emotion, he didn’t say anything, but he was looking at me when I was saying it.”
Malignaggi also claims he could hear McGregor whimper off the body shots.
“The funny thing about the push down was this — it was during one of his worst moments,” Malignaggi said.
“He pushed me down on the floor to try and catch a break and the instant I went down I got back up. I remember when I was down I continued to trash talk. I said, ‘Buddy, you need a break?’ because Cortez had to wipe off my gloves.
“I started to take it to him right after that. I told him, ‘you get no breaks here’, and I started to hit him with more body shots. I said, ‘take those, they don’t feel good’ and I could hear him whimper off the body shots, too.”
After the sparring session ended, Malignaggi assumed that he and McGregor were cool and buried the hatchet. Malignaggi had asked McGregor to not let the sparring pictures taken by McGregor’s photographers’ leak. However, McGregor didn’t give him assurance, prompting him to call McGregor a dickhead. That’s when all went down south real fast.
“After that sparring, I thought we had buried the hatchet,” he said.
“We took a picture in the ring. Everybody gave us a hand. We just did 12 hard rounds, it didn’t matter who got the better of it, there is a respect thing after you spend 36 minutes in a ring with a guy and you’re trying to beat the s**t out of each other.
“In the dressing room I passed by Conor and he said ‘good work’ and I said ‘yeah, good work Conor.’ I thought we had buried the hatchet and I was thinking that maybe I didn’t need to be so on-edge in the camp anymore. I was hoping that because I had come with those intentions.”
“Then I said, ‘Conor, do me a favor, bro. No more of these crazy pictures,’” Malignaggi said. “The week before, when I was working at Broner/Garcia, the media was there for the fight week because that was a big fight in boxing. All everybody wanted to know about was these pictures.
“I told Conor that it becomes very hard for me to not disclose the NDA that I have when you’re putting up pictures of me.
“I am not one of the other sparring partners. Nobody knows who the other sparring partners are. Everyone knows who I am. When you put up a picture of me in sparring, the media rush comes to me and I have to answer questions that I don’t want to deal with.
“I have to try and make you look good. I want you to look good. I want to say things that make you look good. I want to promote you and help you out, but not at my expense.
“I also have to try and figure how to do it without making myself look bad now because you’re putting out me in compromising positions with these pictures.
“I had this conversation with Conor after the second sparring in the dressing room and this is probably when I realized what a dickhead this guy is because at that moment we had just done 12 hard rounds and there’s a respect that I’m feeling, at least.”
“He looks at me, and I’m expecting, you’re right, Paulie – you got it, let’s just keep this good work going.’
“Instead, he looks at me and he gives me this smirk, laughs at me and he starts walking away from me.
“He gives me his back, he’s walking away towards the showers and he’s like, ‘Ha ha, I don’t know Paulie. We got some good ones in those last two rounds. I don’t know about that.’
“At this stage, I’m waiting for Ashton Kutcher to walk into the dressing rooms and tell me I got Punk’d. I thought it was a joke. I thought there was no way this guy is that much of an a**hole.”
So not only did McGregor lose Malignaggi as a sparring partner due to a lack of professionalism and respect but he also lost another former world champion boxer in Andre Berto who was expected to spar with McGregor this week but abruptly canceled his sessions after contacting Malignaggi & seeing what happened during what has become a turbulent training camp that isn’t associated with professional boxers. Whether all this will play into Floyd Mayweather’s hands on August, 26th remains to be seen.