MCGREGOR SPARS MALIGNAGGI
By Jon Sutton
Let’s forget the obvious about THAT video for a minute, shall we?
That it was, firstly, only from a sparring session and that it is, secondly, only showing a few seconds from a full twelve rounds.
Let’s pretend, for the sake of McGregor fans everywhere, that Conor & Paulie Malignaggi were in a real fight.
Not sparring – where a partner will often be asked to work on a specific discipline such as counter punching or footwork or moving backwards (or mimicking Floyd’s shoulder rolls!) … which are all training styles that could easily result in a touch-down with no harm done to body or pride.
No. Let’s pretend this was about both men putting their lives on the line in an attempt to stop the other, no matter what.
And let’s also imagine, for the sake of argument, that Conor knocking down Paulie was the ONLY thing of note to happen in the entire session. That Paulie never landed a similar shot in any of those twelve rounds. Let’s imagine that the knock-down* was the whole story of the “fight”, since that’s the only part of it that the McGregor camp conveniently happened to leak.
(*The KD itself is debatable since Paulie says it was due to exhaustion, which I personally can believe at this stage of his career and after a long session – especially since it was revealed that the solid left we saw Conor land, was actually edited-in from a previous round.)
So according to the rules laid out above – and according to most of Conor’s fans around the world – Conor has just beaten Paulie “Magic-Man” Malignaggi. A real boxer. A two time world champ. In a real fight.
Evidence then, surely, that Conor is going to do the unthinkable… and whoop the un-whoopable… right?
Well, this is where things start to unravel even further…
Even at this monstrous stretch of imagination, Conor has only beaten… Paulie Malignaggi.
Paulie who was beaten up by Amir. Amir who was devastated by Canelo. Canelo who was – you see where I’m going with this – completely outclassed by Floyd Mayweather.
If this were a real boxing match, the “evidence” would crumble right there.
Don’t get me wrong – the mathematics of Boxer A beats Boxer B so would naturally beat Boxer C has never held any water.
But in this situation, non-experts seem confident with the formula of Boxer A knocks down Boxer B in sparring so will next demolish Boxer Z. In the case of Boxer A, I use the term lightly.
Even Ricky Hatton had to destroy Jose Luis Castillo – the man who’d given Floyd nightmares early in his career – before fans would give him a shot against Mayweather.
Ricky had a tradition of real KOs against real boxers on his record. He left Frank Warren’s safe-haven to seek American glory. He fought away from home. And away from his weight class. He took on – and beat up – someone who’d almost beaten Floyd.
The evidence was all there. He could do it!
Until he couldn’t.
It seems with Conor though, fans are happy to give him a shot based on a sparring session against Malignaggi – who was never even in the same league as Floyd.
A man who, whilst I enjoyed his every moment in the ring, relied on speed and speed alone. Speed which has since diminished with age.
For a fighter at his level, Paulie never had a decent punch. Nor did he seem capable of avoiding one.
Yes, as a boxing fan, I can attest to Paulie’s status as a once-bonafide (although far from unified) world champion – but here’s a list of guys who’ve beaten Paulie in the last decade…
To be fair, all big names. Perhaps with the exception of the little known Brummy, Sam Eggington, who recently demolished Paulie.
But the last three of those losses (inc. Eggington), and most of the previous five, were stoppages.
Paulie was beaten up, damaged, hurt – because he was blocking most of the punches with his face.
And whilst those names are all big, only Cotto had anything close to success at Floyd’s level.
Let me just remind those UK-based casual boxing fans, who don’t know the rest of the names on the list, that two of those KOs were delivered by our very own… Ricky Hatton, who was brutally KOd by Floyd… and Amir Khan, who was brutally KOd by Canelo, who couldn’t lay a glove on Floyd.
Now I’m not one for putting my house on the line prior to fight night, so I have to admit – not even begrudgingly – that bringing Conor’s mix of youth, fitness, brutality, confidence, aggression, strength, size and awkward southpaw/MMA style into a boxing ring… is interesting.
It’s fair to say that Floyd has a very different fight on his hands come next week. And with age working against him, a powerful shot could slip through the usually impenetrable guard, as happened with Cotto, Castillo and Mosley.
But asking me to see evidence of McGregor’s guaranteed victory in an edited video showing the perceived domination of an older man, who even at his peak, was little more than a pay day for the likes of Floyd…
You might even go as far to say that in the tired and notoriously feather-fisted Paulie Malignaggi, a real boxer with a big heart and a bigger mouth… the team behind the ever-posturing Conor McGregor found the perfect sparring partner…
If they were planning to leak the footage.