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Paulie Malignaggi: I’ll fight Conor McGregor for free ‘just to punch him in the mouth again’

Paulie Malignaggi and Devon Alexander Open Workouts
Paulie Malignaggi wants a winner-take-all fight with Conor McGregor.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Paulie Malignaggi has a proposition for Conor McGregor. He’ll put his purse on the line for the chance to face him in a boxing ring, for real.

“I’m willing to risk fighting him for free just to punch him in the mouth again, again and again,” Malignaggi told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour. “That’s how confident I am he can’t beat me. I’d make it winner take all just for the pleasure of putting my fist in his teeth again.”

Malignaggi and McGregor started as sparring partners this summer. But McGregor obviously wasn’t happy about trash talk Malignaggi had for him last December, long before McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather was booked, and the relationship devolved from there.

McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, and his team posted photos of their sparring sessions and Malignaggi didn’t like it. McGregor’s team was reportedly unhappy that Malignaggi was doing interviews about the training. When a photo was leaked on social media of McGregor appearing to drop Malignaggi in sparring, that was it. Malignaggi left the Irishman’s camp and the two have exchanged heated words — including in person last week — since then.

McGregor, 29, ended up losing his pro boxing debut to all-time great Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 week in Las Vegas by TKO in the 10th round. He won the first three rounds on the scorecard of one judge and, according to most onlookers, acclimated himself to boxing fairly well for an MMA fighter making the transition. Even Malignaggi said he went further into the bout than he thought.

“As an unbiased commentator, I’ll tell you this: People are shocked at the way Conor started the fight,” Malignaggi said. “He started the fight very well.”

However, that doesn’t change the way Malignaggi, 36, feels about McGregor as a person or a boxer. The Brooklyn native, who retired earlier this year, wants to return to the ring and face “The Notorious” and he believes he will finish him.

“Conor gets stopped by me,” Malignaggi said. “If Conor doesn’t get stopped by me, I should get penalized at least a portion of my purse if I don’t stop this guy.”

Malignaggi seems to believe McGregor will perform, if they fight, in the same way he did against Mayweather. That is to say McGregor will run out of gas in the middle rounds. Malignaggi has said something similar happened when the two sparred.

“After a few rounds, the problem is Conor has no backup plan,” Malginaggi said. “This might just be that he hasn’t boxed for a long time. That’s not so many layers to him. The layers has has are just the ones you see.

“I think once you get the hang of it, once you get the hang of what Conor is doing, you start to break him. And as I’ve said from the start, this guy is not the bravest guy in the world. There’s a lot of punk in this guy. He’s a loud guy, he’s a brash guy. Honestly, in MMA he has the advantage most of the time, because he is talented. You have to give him that, he is talented. But a fighter is a fighter when faced with adversity. Not in round one, not when he’s talking at a press conference.”

Malignaggi said he spoke to Mayweather afterward and asked him why he fought more aggressively beginning in the middle rounds than he usually does in fights. Mayweather, Malignaggi said, told him he wanted to prove a point about himself and about McGregor, coming over from MMA.

“He made his point and in doing so, he made my point,” Malignaggi said. “This guy has no balls. At the end of the day, once you push him to the limit, he will look for a way out of a fight. He didn’t throw a punch [in the final sequence]. As much as he wants to say the referee should have let him go out on his back and all that stuff, he didn’t throw a punch for over a minute in that last sequence, while being assaulted. You leave the referee no choice.”

Malignaggi made it clear that he would want McGregor in boxing, not MMA, since their argument started over boxing sparring. A matchup between McGregor and McGregor would be “sellable,” Malignaggi said. And he’s probably right about that.

But “Magic Man” is not so certain “Mystic Mac” would sign on the bottom line because he said McGregor has been able to make the pubic believe he got the better of Malignaggi in sparring.

“He’s got most of that public perception there,” Malignaggi said. “If he risks fighting me for real, it’s all going to faze out. I think he knows what happens if he fights me for real. He knows that’s me at 35, 40 percent and the trouble he had at 35, 40 percent of me. If I don’t stop him in a 12-round fight, I would be disappointed at myself. That’s not a guy that should go the distance with any world-class boxer. That guy should get stopped by any world-class boxer.”

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