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Malignaggi set to spar with McGregor — just months after vowing to 'knock his beard off'

Malignaggi previously labelled the Mayweather bout “a joke”.

David Haye v Tony Bellew Press Conference - Sky at The O2 Paulie Malignaggi Source: PA Wire/PA Images

PAULIE MALIGNAGGI IS in line to help Conor McGregor to prepare for his boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather on 26 August.

Malignaggi, the former WBA welterweight world champion, says he’s been contacted by McGregor’s team with a view to joining the UFC lightweight title-holder’s training camp as a sparring partner for the Las Vegas bout.

McGregor is currently training in Dublin but the 28-year-old will move his camp to Vegas in mid-July. John Kavanagh, his head coach at Straight Blast Gym, wrote in his most recent column here on The42 that “people will be impressed” by the sparring partners McGregor will be working with for his professional boxing debut.

McGregor has so far been sparring with Tiernan Bradley, a 20-year-old welterweight from Tyrone who’s aiming to be one of Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls in Tokyo in 2020, as well as professional boxer and former UFC fighter Dashon Johnson.

“I did get called to go into camp with Conor McGregor,” Malignaggi revealed on his ‘From Brooklyn to the World’ podcast. “I was surprised. I haven’t really been training, I haven’t been in the gym. So I’ve started working out a little bit. I’m working out the details to spar with McGregor.”

Two days after he was stopped by Sam Eggington back in March, Malignaggi announced his retirement from boxing. Having fought professionally for 16 years, the 36-year-old New Yorker’s record stands at 36-8.

Malignaggi, who also works as a pundit for Showtime, said: “It’s interesting that they called me, in general. As people know, I’ve announced my retirement. It’s a good opportunity for me to lose a little bit of weight and get in shape, and also take part in a training camp without me actually having to make weight, which is fun.”

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Conor McGregor Conor McGregor Source: Tom Hogan/INPHO

The development comes in spite of the fact that Malignaggi has been outspoken in his opposition to the prospect of a professional debutant facing arguably the greatest boxer of his generation.

Malignaggi previously labelled the fight “a joke” and last December insisted that he would “knock the beard off” McGregor were he ever to take him on in the boxing ring.

However, Malignaggi expressed his admiration for McGregor for overlooking those comments and said he’ll be “a team player” if he does end up joining the Dubliner’s camp.

“I did call him out, and I think that shows the character of the man. He could have said, ‘Screw that kid, he called me out, I’m not going to put him in my training camp’. I think it shows the competitive spirit and the willingness to want to learn, on the part of McGregor,” said Malignaggi.

“It shows you how hungry he is. He put that pride aside. It’s not easy to put pride aside, especially when you’re a fighter. It makes me respect him a little bit more.”

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Paul Dollery

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