Anybody with even a remote interest in combat sports knows about the upcoming boxing match between a debuting Conor McGregor and 49-0 legend Floyd Mayweather, taking place on August 26th in Las Vegas.
With MMA and boxing’s biggest stars coming together, and both men fully able to talk the talk, it’s no surprise that this bout has penetrated the mainstream, even if it’s not much of a matchup on paper.
Mayweather has dominated world class opposition for over two decades now, cementing his place as one of the best boxers of all time. Whilst McGregor has been lighting up the world of mixed martial arts with his flair and punching power, it’s a world away from the level his upcoming adversary has been operating at.
In order to prepare for the gargantuan task ahead, the Irishman has brought in an array of sparring partners to help him in his preparation. For the most part, they have been complimentary of his ‘sweet science’ skills, but Paulie Malignaggi wouldn’t toe the line. Before they met in the ring, Malignaggi had taken aim at McGregor, so when things went sour in training camp, it was hardly a surprise.
There’s an unwritten rule that ‘whatever happens in the gym, stays in the gym’, but in today’s social media age it doesn’t take much looking to see how often that is violated. Given McGregor’s massive following on the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, when he posts, the reach is enormous. Thus, when he posts a purposefully inflammatory image of the American on the mat during sparring, understandably it went viral and set off a chain of controversy.
New York veteran Malignaggi walked out of the camp, citing McGregor’s arrogance and disrespect. He claimed that the image didn’t show what Team McGregor purported it to show, and instead it was a push that landed him on his back.
In steps the UFC’s Dana White – who has Conor as his horse in this race – posting videos of the moment on his instagram.
Many have seen this as a ploy to gain credibility from Malignaggi’s name, as a former two-weight world champion. The media and hype will sell its fair share of pay-per-views, but for the maximum amount of intrigue, it must be seen as competitive. As it stands, some bookmakers on the Oddschecker site have Mayweather as 1/6 favourite. If McGregor can have fans believe he has the ability to outclass a seasoned campaigner like the New Yorker, maybe, just maybe, he has a chance.
Again though, Malignaggi rebuked the footage, stating that only the full, unedited footage would show the reality. In 12 rounds of action, mere seconds of highlight worthy material will not give a clear picture. More importantly though, the former IBF and WBA champion believes it will not matter one bit when he takes to the ring on fight night.
Def, fight night always brings us all to reality, can’t edit that shit lol. https://t.co/GEN6N5MqnF
— Paul Malignaggi (@PaulMalignaggi) August 13, 2017
Not only that, but it has already managed to negatively affect his preparation for Mayweather, in that scheduled sparring partner Andre Berto withdrew from his planned rounds with McGregor because of the situation that has unfolded. Although Berto was on the losing end of a decision back in 2015, spending 12 rounds in the ring with Floyd could offer invaluable kernels of knowledge to pass on to the next challenger.
“He’s going to have trouble getting any help in boxing because the sneaky tactics, the sneaky qualities that he has now can no longer be looked at as a coincidence,” offered Malignaggi on Berto’s withdrawal.
With time ticking away, any help McGregor could get would be vital. Has his own ego caused him to burn bridges that he needed to cross? There’s still a chance an older, slower Mayweather may make a mistake, but now it’s up to McGregor to prove people wrong.