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Paulie Malignaggi claims he’s in negotiations with Conor McGregor to help him spar for Floyd Mayweather

PBC on ESPN: Danny Garcia v Paulie Malignaggi Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Conor McGregor’s training camp for Floyd Mayweather Jr. might be getting a new addition.

On Wednesday, former WBA champion and now boxing commentator Paulie Malignaggi revealed during a Showtime Sports podcast that the UFC lightweight champion had asked him to be one of his sparring partners in preparation for his boxing fight with Mayweather, which is set to go down on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. Having retired earlier this year, calling an end to a 16-year boxing career, Malignaggi was caught off guard when McGregor reached out to him. The 36-year-old hasn’t accepted the Irishman’s offer, but seems keen to the idea, as it could enhance his commentator gig for the fight.

“I did get called to go to camp with Conor McGregor,” Malignaggi said. “I was surprised [since] I haven’t really been training, I haven’t been in the gym, so I started working out a little bit. I’m working out the details to spar with McGregor. If it’s something that’s going to be feasible, I think it’ll be cool because I think I’ll have some inside stuff to talk about on fight night.

“I don’t really see myself talking about anything about camp because I’m a team player. I don’t want to be the kind of guy that comes out of camp and starts talking, ‘this and that, and that happened in camp’, but I think on fight night – during the broadcast – I think I will have some cool, in-depth stuff that I’d like to talk about because by that point we’re already on fight night and it’s there. I think it’s interesting that they called me in general, you know. As people, know I announced my retirement and I think this is a good opportunity to lose a little bit of weight and also take part of a training camp without having to make weight, so that’s fun.”

Malignaggi was surprised he was called by McGregor in part because he’s no longer an active fighter, but also because he called out McGregor to a boxing match in December saying he would ‘knock the beard off’ him and vowing to teach him a lesson in the ring.

“I did call him out, but I think that shows the character of the man,” Malignaggi explained. “He could’ve said ‘screw that kid, he called me out, I’m not going to put him in my training camp’, but I think it shows the competitive spirit and the willingness to want to learn on the part of McGregor. It shows you how hungry he is because he put that pride aside. It’s not easy to put that pride aside specially when you’re a fighter. It makes me respect him a little more.”

The McGregor-Mayweather boxing match was made official earlier this month after having sparked the interest of millions of sports fans over the last year. It’s hard to imagine how McGregor, who’s never been in a professional boxing fight, could possibly compete against one of the greatest boxer of all time. Like many, Malignaggi is curious to know why McGregor is so confident he could become the first man to defeat Mayweather.

“I think there are a lot of curiosities,” Malignaggi said. “I know he’s an ultra competitor, he’s a guy that’s very competitive and I’m curious to see –and I’ve seen him fight in the UFC, obviously and I think he’s very talented – how his training camp is coming along because I know he already started his training camp in Ireland and he’s going to move it to Las Vegas.

“That’s where I’m going to join them, when they transfer to Vegas, so I’m curious to see the kind of progress thus far in the Irish part of the camp and see what he’s got to offer in this part of camp. I don’t have my fighter eyes on right anymore, I’m not coming in as a 22-year-old sparring partner. When I was a 22-year-old kid, sparring with champions, I felt like I went in there with something to prove. I’m coming in here more of like a team player, and I’m curious to see what’s there. I think that first sparring session will be pretty interesting, so let’s see if I do it though. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but they have reached out to me and we’re in talks.”

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