Paulie Malignaggi, a two-time boxing world champion who retired in March, has abruptly quit his role as one of Conor McGregor's sparring partners after pictures surfaced that appeared to show the UFC superstar wiping the floor with the guy who spent 16 years as a pro boxer.
These pictures, from McGregor's personal photog, sent Malignaggi into a rage. As he claimed on Twitter, he actually outboxed McGregor's ass in the ring and these photos are of the few moments when the Irishman actually looked good. And that one on top? It was a pushdown not a knockdown, or so Malignaggi says.
Malignaggi has actually been complimentary of McGregor. After their first sparring session, Malignaggi told ESPN, "He's got some pop in the left hand, I can't take that away from him." He conceded that McGregor looks unconventional in the ring, but said that "there's a method to his madness."
After these pictures leaked though, the kind words ended. Malignaggi tweeted that he "beat the breaks" off of McGregor and hinted that McGregor hiring him as a sparring partner was a set-up from the beginning. He elaborated on that point in an interview with ESPN:
"Usually all sparring is private. I show up at the UFC headquarters and [former owner, Lorenzo] Fertitta is there. [UFC president] Dana White is there. So, I'm thinking these guys are thinking they'll catch me right off the flight, set me up for him to look good in front of his audience. I didn't like that. I kind of went in with a chip on my shoulder."
Malignaggi also posted a more thorough explanation for what went wrong, but ended it like a gentleman, wishing McGregor well in his preparations for the fight.