Former world boxing champion, current commentator, and future sparring partner for Conor McGregor Paulie Malignaggi appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour and discussed how Notorious could make the Floyd Mayweather fight a win. Malignaggi accompanied the pair on the four-day, three-country, four-city media shit show, and learned something about Notorious.
“When I first saw the fight signed, I thought to myself, ‘Conor has to know he’s going to lose. I mean, subtly, he’s got to believe he’s going to lose.’ I thought he was doing it a lot for the money,” said Malignaggi, as transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMA Fighting. “I thought, ‘There’s no way this guy really believes he’s going to win.’ But through the press conferences day in, day out, day in, day out that I was at, I really noticed something in Conor’s character. This guy is a winner through and through, which I always believed he was. But this guy believes he’s going to win this fight.
“Now, whether it sounds ridiculous to the boxing fans or ridiculous to anybody else, it may sound ridiculous even to me or somebody else, he believes it wholeheartedly in his mind. There’s nothing this guy hasn’t been able to achieve in his life when doubt was pressed onto him. So in his mind, he’s doing the same thing he’s been doing his whole life: proving the doubters wrong, proving the odds wrong. And in his mind, he’s going to do it again, and he wholeheartedly believes that. I could tell there was emotion behind that trash talk, there was passion behind that trash talk. There was passion behind what he was saying. You can only be that passionate if you believe in where you’re going, what you’re doing.”
“What I’ve been saying from the start, you need to look if Conor can have certain moments in the fight. I don’t think you can just outright say, ‘Conor wins the fight.’ It’s just outright too much of a jump. But here’s where you can start to think Conor wins the fight: you look for Conor to have certain moments in the fight, whether he can get Floyd’s attention, maybe land a particular punch or particular shot or particular combination. Figure out ways where Floyd’s falling for certain things, because Floyd is so smart, he doesn’t fall for very many things. Figure out ways where you can set certain traps for Floyd and land a couple of shots here and there.
“And here’s what happens: you have a moment here, you have a moment there. Sometimes, especially when you punch as hard as Conor McGregor, sometimes a moment becomes a bigger moment. Sometimes a bigger moment ends the fight. So you look at it like this: can Conor have a moment or two here and there? Because overall, the control of the fight, I believe, will be Floyd’s. Floyd fights for control and I believe Floyd will be in control.
“Obviously, Floyd has more pros going into this fight because it is a boxing match. But when a guy hits as hard as Conor McGregor, all he needs to do is look to grab certain moments in the fight. A moment here, a moment there. Can he turn one of these moments into a bigger moment that can possibly turn into real danger for Floyd Mayweather? And that’s kind of how you want to view the fight, if you’re looking at Conor McGregor’s chances of winning the fight. Because if you just look at it, ‘Oh, Conor can win the fight’ — it’s not that simple, it’s not that black and white. There’s a lot of grey area in there. You probably favor Floyd Mayweather in the fight. But there’s intangibles that I just spoke about, that you think that maybe Conor has a chance.”