After his acrimonious departure from the Conor McGregor camp in early August, Paulie Malignaggi claimed that the Irishman’s progress as a boxer was being severely hampered by his own mentality and the environment he had created around him.
“My problem with Conor is his arrogance. His arrogance is to the point that he can’t make progress, he can’t learn,” the former two-weight boxing titlist said on Fox 5’s Sports Xtra. “He just wants a bunch of yes-men around him. He doesn’t want to be told he’s doing something wrong. He doesn’t want to be told that he needs to make progress or change certain things(via BloodyElbow).”
“Whatever he’s doing, he just wants to be told how great he’s doing,” he added.
On August 26th, when McGregor stepped into the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to make his professional boxing debut, he both surprised and impressed the vast majority of observers with his pugilistic prowess. The UFC lightweight champion won the first three rounds on the scorecards of most viewers – although only one of the official judges agreed – and acquitted himself admirably en route to a 10th round stoppage defeat.
Despite the fact that McGregor’s performance drew plaudits from even his most ardent critics, Malignaggi is sticking by his prior comments, especially regarding those who make up ‘The Notorious’ one’s team and support group.
After watching Showtime’s brilliant Mayweather vs. McGregor All Access Epilogue episode, which granted fans a glimpse into the fighter’s corners between rounds of the cross codes super-fight and made viewers privy to the advice being provided by the respective teams, Malignaggi laid into McGregor’s coaches, Owen Roddy and John Kavanagh, both of whom were performing corner duties in a pro boxing match for the very first time.
“I feel like everything I said about this fight, before this fight, was exactly the way it played out,” Malignaggi said on an edition of his ‘From Brooklyn to the World’ podcast released last week. “Even in the corner.”
“I was assuming they were yes-men, just because I remember there was rounds where he got his ass kicked in sparring and then he’d look at me like he was doing good or he’d make a comment. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is this guy retarded? Does he know he’s getting the shit beat out of him right now?’
“So, I remember thinking there must be something they were telling him in the corner, where they are just cheerleading him on. There is no way – in some of these rounds when he’s getting his ass kicked – that he’s actually thinking he’s doing good. There’s just no way. That’s why I told people that he’s just got a bunch of cheerleaders.
“If my guy comes back to a corner after a bad round, like if it’s a really bad especially, I’m going to be like, ‘Yo, we gotta do this, this and this – we gotta change it up.’ So I made the assumption that there were a bunch of cheerleaders in the corner and I said it in the media and what not.
“I gotta be honest, bro, they were even worse than I thought. They were literally worse than I thought. I mean, at the end of the first round – he had a good first round – and [somebody in McGregor’s corner] said, ‘It’s going to get easier from here.’ Are you fucking shitting me? It’s going to get easier from here? It’s going to get easier from here? You got Mount Everest in front of you, bro. It’s going to get harder and harder. That’s how it is when you fight Floyd Mayweather.”
Things did indeed get progressively worse for McGregor as the fight wore on. The SBG Ireland product’s bright start seemed to take an awful lot out of him and he began to tire in the middle rounds. Mayweather, a master of pacing, then began to march forward and take it to the fading 28-year-old debutant.
“And then at the end, they went from all the cheerleading to then having nothing to do but say, ‘Yeah, just hold, just hit him and hold,'” Malignaggi said of McGregor’s cornermen. “Bro, you can’t go from one extreme to the other. You can’t do that. You have to guide your guy through it correctly. What are you doing? What’s going on? They looked so confused.”
“It’s crazy, man. I was more dumbfounded than I expected to be when I saw the quotes from that corner. It was brutality at it’s finest.”
Roddy, who as McGregor’s striking coach took the lead in the corner during the boxing bout, has admitted that the team were unprepared for the approach Mayweather utilized – which was uncharacteristically aggressive. Mayweather, however, claimed post-fight that his gameplan from the outset was to allow McGregor to let his power shots go early, before upping the pace and applying the finishing touches once he was fatigued in the later rounds.
Still, Malignaggi’s comments about McGregor’s cornermen may come of a place of unfamiliarity with their usual approach. Kavanagh has often said in the past that he tries to be a calming influence in the corner, instead of bombarding and confusing an already tired fighter with complex technical instructions.