The 40-year-old Mayweather took his time analyzing and adapting to his UFC counterpart in Saturday’s main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., as he had in countless championship boxing bouts prior to facing “The Notorious.” In the 10th round, Mayweather turned up the pressure to pick up a TKO win and Malignaggi — who was working as a ringside analyst for Showtime — explained how the slow start was all part of Mayweather’s gameplan.
“I think [McGregor] started the fight very well, actually,” Malignaggi said afterwards. “It was tactical brilliance, almost. It was awkward, but it was effective in the early stages. Now having said that, the mental pressure Floyd was applying, Conor doesn’t have much experience in the ring so it’s going to fatigue him a little bit faster because he sees this guy constantly walking him down.
“Even if Conor was being effective, the constant walking him down is going to cause fatigue physically, but also mentally. ‘I can’t get this guy out of my face.’ Conor’s used to hurting guys, he’s not hurting (Mayweather). And it got to the point where he was able to fire back less and less.”
Following the loss, McGregor expressed displeasure with referee Robert Byrd’s decision to wave off the bout, but Malignaggi said that McGregor being pummeled against the ropes was good enough reason for Byrd to step in.
“As far as the stoppage is concerned, we saw Conor say, ‘I would have liked to end up on my back, I didn’t even go down.’ Here’s the problem with that: You have to punch back,” Malignaggi said. “He didn’t punch back for about over a minute in that final sequence. If you want to really fight, you’ve got to show the referee you want to fight. You can’t just say afterwards you wanted to fight. If you don’t throw a bunch back for a minute while you’re being assaulted, you gotta get stopped. You can’t put the referee in that kind of position.
“So as much as he wants to say he wanted to continue fighting, he had a chance to show that, but of course, it’s okay, the exhaustion, we understand that. Some body shots from Floyd Mayweather, again, the mental pressure I thought was effective and eventually it wore him down.”
Malignaggi has been engaged in his own rivalry of sorts with McGregor stemming from their time training together in preparation for the Mayweather fight. Photos and footage were leaked from their sparring sessions that cast the retired Malignaggi in a poor light, and he subsequently criticized how McGregor’s team handled the situation while also aiming pointed barbs at the man himself.