With just over three weeks remaining until the one of the most-anticipated fights in boxing history, Conor McGregor‘s sparring partner pulled out of his training camp for the August 26 fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor’s sparring partner, Paulie Malignaggi, announced his decision to do so on Twitter on August 3, saying in a personal statement that “some of the stuff outside the ring and some ways some things were handled in training camp” weren’t up to his standards.
The unexpected announcement came hours after photos of Malignaggi laying on the ground during a sparring match with McGregor were posted to Twitter.
Malignaggi said that the photographs were taken out of context, adding that he was on the ground because McGregor pushed him, not because of punches.
“Its not nice 2 paint a pic that isn’t true, this was a pushdown in sparring, post the whole video rounds 1 through 12 UNEDITED,” Malignaggi wrote in response to the photos.
After the tweet, Malignaggi continued, even requesting that the UFC post the video of the sparring match to prove that McGregor didn’t get the best of him.
Instead, Malignaggi said the sparring match was quite different, saying he “beat (McGregor’s) ass” just 24 hours off of his flight.
Days before the photos surfaced, Malignaggi publicly spoke about his sparring sessions with McGregor, the first-time boxer.
“It wasn’t out of this world, but it’s something you respect,” Malignaggi said of McGregor’s punching power.
Malignaggi is a retired boxing veteran that’s a two-time world champion. In the ring, he’s known for his fast hands and durable chin.
Here’s what you need to know about Malignaggi:
1. Malignaggi Was in Street Fights When he Was Younger
Fighting has been in Malignaggi’s blood from a very young age. He was born in Brooklyn to Sicilian immigrant parents, who moved back to Italy shortly after his birth, living in Syracuse, Sicily in his early years. After residing there for a short while, the family decided to move back to Brooklyn when his brother, Umberto was born. But his father stayed in New York just for a few weeks until he separated from his wife and moved back to Italy.
Eventually, Malignaggi’s mother found another man and remarried, but he and Umberto didn’t get along with their new stepfather. In fact, the two got into a fight with him in 1996, and both were kicked out of the house, living with their grandparents until they got a new home years later.
In school, it was apparent that Malignaggi had a hard-nosed attitude. In his Showtime Sports documentary, he said he was a troublemaker in school and “regularly” got into street fights, some involving him taking weapons such as knives or evern a gun. Eventually, Malignaggi was expelled from his school for getting into fights and skipping classes.
It was his grandfather that encouraged him to get involved in boxing when he was a teenager, and he was eventually given his chance to shine.
2. Malignaggi Turned Professional in 2001
After many years of training and boxing at the amateur level, Malignaggi finally turned professional in 2001. He fought in the light welterweight class and won each of his first 21 fights before suffering his first defeat at the hands of Migel Cotto in 2006.
Malignaggi won his next fight by unanimous decision against Edner Cherry in New York City and that set him up for his first-ever championship bout.
3. Malignaggi Won His 1st Title in 2007 & Another in 2012
In that June 2007 championship fight for the IBF Light Welterweight title against defending champion Lovemore N’dou, Malignaggi won by a 12-round unanimous decision. The fight took place in Uncasville, Connecticut and was very one-sided. Malignaggi won by a 120-106 judges scorecard, and boxing legend Lennox Lewis, who was commentating the fight, said that Malignaggi was putting on a “boxing clinic.”
Malignaggi defended his title on numerous occasions and won the 2008 rematch against N’Dou in England by split decision. In that fight, Malignaggi was wearing hair extensions, which his trainer cut off in the corner after a round eight because of issues that were being caused by them.
In his next fight, Malignaggi suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of IBO Light Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton. He struggled to find his footing in the lopsided fight, which Hatton won every round but the last in, and his trainer threw in the towel during the 11th round.
One of the more memorable moments of Malignaggi’s boxing career was when he lost in a catch-weight fight against Juan Diaz for the vacant WBO NABO Light Welterweight title. Following the fight, Malignaggi was heated, saying that he lost because of the judges and that “boxing is full of s**t.”
The two had a rematch in 2009, and Malignaggi came out on top by a 116-111 decision.
Malignaggi moved up to the welterweight class after being outmatch in a fight against Amir Khan.
In his first welterwight fight, Malignaggi was victorious against Vyacheslav Senchenko in a bout for the WBA Welterweight title. He won via a knockout in the ninth round.
Malignaggi lost the title in a 2013 fight against Adrien Broner by split decision.
4. Malignaggi Retired From Boxing in March
Malignaggi’s last fight in a boxing ring was earlier this year on March 4. He traveled to the United Kingdom to take on Sam Eggington for the WBC International Welterweight Championship.
The match was called in the eighth round when Eggington landed a harsh body shot on Malignaggi, which stunned him. Immediately after, Eggington followed with a jab to the head, and that was all it took. Despite Malignaggi being up two points on the judges’ scorecards at the time when the referee stopped the fight, Eggington won via knockout.
Following the fight, Malignaggi said he would be retiring from boxing and officially announced his retirement March 6 at 36-years old.
“Nineteen years ago today, I entered the ring for the first time as an amateur,” Malignaggi said at the press conference. “That makes this as good a time as any to announce my retirement from competition.”
Malignaggi finished his boxing career going 36-8 with seven of his wins coming via knockout.
5. He’s Now a Boxing Commentator & Has Advocated for Brain Damage Research
Throughout his time in a boxing ring, Malignaggi was never short of media appearances. He’s been featured in numerous clothing advertisements that have been published in magazines such as Esquire and Playboy.
In 2003, Malignaggi had a role in the 2011 movie Undefeated and his likeness was used as a feature character in the Nintento Wii video game Punch-Out!! Back in 2015, Malignaggi had a role in an episode of Blue Bloods.
Currently, Malignaggi works as a boxing commentator for Fox Sports, Showtime and Sky Sports.
Malignaggi has also been an advocate for extensive research into brain damage caused by contact sports.
In 2016, he stood aside former NFL star Herschel Walker, boxer Larry Holmes, boxer Austin Trout and UFC star Phil Davis to announce their support for additional research into the issue. Malignaggi was on stage with Sen. John McCain of Arizona at the press conference, who was there to welcome the announcement that the Nevada Athletic Commission would start requiring all fighters to undergo brain testing.