Having been in the boxing business for over 15 years, it’s understandable that Paulie Malignaggi isn’t anointing Conor McGregor as the next Mike Tyson just yet.
In an interview on the “Big Brown Breakdown” with Brendan Schaub, the former IBF and WBO champion elaborated on recently sparring with McGregor in preparation for the UFC lightweight king’s upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26. Specifically, he offered a modest appraisal of the Irishman’s vaunted knockout power.
“He’s not a weak puncher. People are dying for me to say, ‘he hits hard, oh, this big left hand’ - if Conor hits you, you’re gonna feel it. He’s a grown man,” said Malignaggi.
“And I’d say he’s an above average puncher. I could feel with the 16 oz. gloves that if he lands a shot with 10 oz. gloves, he’ll probably get your attention. Is it ‘Oh my God’ power? No. I mean, ‘Oh my God’ power is very rare... I’ve sparred thousands of rounds in my life, I’ve sparred probably hundreds of people in my life. People that I’ve sparred, because I can’t give you the people that I fought because I fought them with 8 oz. gloves, but out of the people that I’ve sparred, that had ‘Oh my God’ power, it’s probably only a handful.”
McGregor has finished seven of his nine Octagon adversaries with strikes, including Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez. There have been questions about whether that stopping power will carry over to the boxing ring, but McGregor himself has gone on record saying that it is his technique that makes him special, not necessarily raw strength.
After his 13-second KO of Aldo, “The Notorious” famously said, “Precision beats power and timing beats speed.” Though Malignaggi wouldn’t say that McGregor was among the harder hitters that he’s sparred or fought with, he echoed the MMA fighter’s philosophy when it comes to effective striking.
“Listen, Conor doesn’t have that kind of power, but Conor’s got power that if it lands with the small gloves, you’re probably going down, you’re probably going to get rocked,” said Malignaggi.
“It’s respectable power, it’s respectable pop, and that’s really all you need... the key is being able to land it cleanly. Because if you’re able to land it cleanly, yeah, Conor will get your attention and Conor will do the damage. He’s gotta be able to land it cleanly, that’s the trick here.”
McGregor’s accuracy, speed, and power will be put to the test when he gets 12 rounds to chase down Mayweather, who is considered by many to be the greatest defensive pugilist in history.