In his conversation with Betway today, Malignaggi reflected on almost punching a tipsy Liam Gallagher before his Ricky Hatton fight, opined that Anthony Joshua, past his prime, should challenge Deontay Wilder – though he feels the Saudis should first facilitate a Joshua vs Tyson Fury match, confidently predicted that Jake Paul would knock out a spineless Conor McGregor and subsequently defeat Nate Diaz, labeled Mayweather vs McGregor as the largest monetary swindle in history, and humorously admitted he can now chuckle at his mid-bout haircut during the Hatton fight.
Malignaggi: “When I got in the ring the Gallaghers started getting in my face, parading the belts and stuff like that. There was an exchange of words and I think they were so drunk already on the Vegas nightlife.
I would question if they even remember what was going on. So they got in my face, and I’m telling these guys to ‘beat it’ and ‘take a hike’. They were saying something like ‘it’s your night to get beat tonight.’
Then I’m thinking – am I going to hit this guy? But then I’m thinking – if I hit him and he drops the belt and then I win this fight then my belts are damaged. So I told them to ‘get the f*** out of my face’. But then it gets funnier because they were sitting in the front row in a section that was mixed with my people and Hatton’s people.
During the fight, Liam is yelling ‘come on Ricky, rip his eyeballs out’ and my manager is listening, and I’m losing the fight. So my manager, he’s an old school Italian American guy, all of a sudden he says ‘shut your f***ing mouth, right now’. And I think maybe Liam thinks he’s like some wiseguy from New York. Liam looks at him and doesn’t say anything more. I look back now and find it so funny because everytime an Oasis song comes on I think of these memories.”
Anthony Joshua is past it – he was taking it too easy against Franklin
Malignaggi: “Joshua is kind of getting past it, not in terms of skills, I think Joshua still has the skills at this age, but I think in terms of the willingness to bite down and be in a tough fight. I saw Joshua trying to cruise past Franklin and just understanding that as long as you get a win, you remain relevant.
And it was sort of an approach that I had late in my career as well – If you can get a cheap win then you can remain relevant because your name is already so big so you’ll fall into a big money fight. It doesn’t matter how good you look because you’ll be able to get one or two more cash grabs. I saw Joshua with that same mentality where he didn’t want to risk
looking tremendous, but he was just trying to do just enough to win without risking himself. ”
A ferocious Joshua doesn’t exist anymore
Malignaggi: “If you’re able to get a cheap win, even unimpressively, the W is all that counts because your name is so big. As long as you get your win you’ll be thrown into the conversation for bigger fights. And so that’s sort of how I read the psychology and the body language of Joshua in the Franklin fight.
Joshua ultimately was looking to win in a way where he wasn’t risking a lot, and he got that win, and so he’s able to remain in the conversation for the big fights, just as I said. I do think he probably needs a summer fight to show that he deserves a big fight, but at the same time, because he’s in this mentality it’s also a risk that he could get upset, so maybe you just put him in a big fight straight away, let him get beat, but it’ll be big cash for AJ.
He didn’t have that eye of the tiger – to quote Rocky III – to have that enthusiastic performance or that passion behind what he was doing. He wasn’t ferocious in the way we’ve known Anthony Joshua to be when he’s at his best. I didn’t see any ferocity out of Joshua. I just saw a basic guy trying to just touch and get what he needed out of it, control the action, but not be ferocious. I didn’t see a ferocious Joshua, I’m not sure that Joshua exists anymore.”
Joshua should fight Wilder instead of taking on interim
Malignaggi: “I think go straight into Wilder because when you are put in these kinds of interim fights, you’re always at risk of getting beat when you have this kind of psychology. You get a guy who you’re supposed to beat, but on that night he’s extra motivated and he’s just fighting much harder. He might out hustle you, or hurt you. In the heavyweight division everybody’s a big puncher.
I don’t think AJ can mentally straighten things out at this point because once it’s past you – you’re comfortable and you’re good – I don’t think you can go back into that ferocious mindset because that mindset itself is fed by hunger – the desire to have more and be more – and I think AJ has already done so much I don’t think he’s looking to chase that anymore.”
But Saudis should make AJ fight Fury in mega tournament first
Malignaggi “I’d like to see Fury and Usyk on the opposite side of the bracket. I mean, they’re one and two. Why would they make Wilder and Joshua fight each other, I think that’s also kind of ridiculous, I would have preferred to see Usyk-Wilder and then we also get the UK derby between Fury and Joshua, that would be monstrous. Because the most likely scenario for the final is going to be Fury-Wilder again, but we already saw that three times.
Wilder is considered possibly the second best heavyweight in the world but Usyk has three of the heavyweight titles. So you kind of get to fight for that right to be the next guy in line for Fury. You get your answer if you make Usyk and Wilder fight each other. Then you guarantee AJ and Fury which would just be great because the UK fans would get a terrific domestic rivalry that still has world level implications. Those are always huge.”
Jake Paul KOs Conor McGregor – the Irishman has no heart
“I think Jake Paul would knock Conor out. Conor is too susceptible to those loopy shots and Jake hits hard enough that only needs to hit you with one or two of them. I think Conor has decent sharp shots but I don’t think Conor has the discipline to stay with those little sharp shots for a certain amount of rounds. I think he would fall apart because he doesn’t have a lot of heart.
Conor has no balls. If you take Conor a few rounds he already has this very big discomfort and mistakes naturally create themselves. You don’t even have to create them anymore. I think he would do okay for a couple of rounds, but if you didn’t get Jake out in a couple of rounds, I think Jake would knock him out, and he would probably knock on out with a big shot.
Conor’s a frontrunner, a guy who’s good early on. But as a fight wears on he breaks down. He doesn’t have the character to withstand a long fight. Typically frontrunners have no heart. So I think Jake would have a disadvantage early because I think Conor’s sharper with his one-two but I think as the fight wears on Jake would be pressuring him and using his natural weight and size over him, I think he would eventually fall apart, make the mistakes, and those defensive lapses would would hurt him.
Jake’s pretty strong, and Jake’s boxing is, you know it’s not terrible. It’s decent, so I think it would come into play.”
Paul beats Diaz too
Malignaggi “Nate is the best stand up fighter from MMA that Jake’s fought, the other guys had no stand up fighting ability at all, but I do think that Nate is sort of a shot guy. I don’t know how much Nate has left. I think he’s going to have a lot of heart and character but he seems kind of shot to me. The key to the fight is how much does Nate have left. How shot or not shot is Nate?
The biggest problem Jake has – and this showed in the fight against Tommy – is the ability to deal with range. He struggles with guys who know how to change range with good footwork, and I don’t think Nate will have that in his arsenal. He’s got better stand up ability than the other MMA guys Jake has beaten but he doesn’t have that footwork, so it eliminates the biggest problem Jake has had, so could see Jake winning this fight.
Tommy Fury was a better boxer than I anticipated. He could actually box. I saw him against this guy Anthony Taylor on one of Jake’s undercards, and I thought he looked terrible, so I was thinking this guy can’t beat Jake. But Tommy’s ability to switch range and use that jab on the range switches made him dominate the fight. Jake was always fighting out of a deficit, you know he did win a couple of rounds, but it was always a deficit. It was Tommy’s ability to jab, step back, close range and create range. ”
Diaz is also past his prime
Malignaggi: “These are things that require boxing footwork, and no guys have it. Nate Diaz won’t have that. Range control is the most important thing in boxing. MMA fighters don’t really have that because they don’t really have an identity as far as boxing is concerned, because they know they fight on the ground and standing up, so they don’t have a clear cut stand up identity, and without that they don’t understand the control of range and wow important and effective it can be, and their footwork is is terrible when it’s translated to boxing.
So not having to deal with that can be advantageous to Jake, plus the fact that Nate is a little bit past this prime, maybe even shot at this point, probably creates a situation for a Jake win. But it’s a curious fight, because, like I said, Nate has shown some good stand up ability.”
McGregor vs Mayweather was biggest money heist in history
I couldn’t imagine how ridiculous a fight between Conor and Floyd would be until I got in the ring with Conor and saw how terrible he was. I said to myself ‘wow, this is really going to be ridiculous’. And it was.
Conor’s stance is too high because he has a Karate background. But the problem is when you stay high in your stance you’re susceptible to the overhand right. So I hit him with those all night long, you’ll notice Khabib dropped him with one of those too.
Conor has a nice sharp one-two, but he falls in with it, so he’s not able to put a combination behind it because he falls in with his left hand. So every time he threw a left hand, whether it landed, or whether it missed, he would fall in and then you wind up in a clinch. Joe Cortez, who was actually the referee for the spar, had a hard time refereeing because Conor would fall in and then try to do all kinds of locks and all kinds of holding and hitting. It got kind of messy in those little clenches. But it was interesting, a mind blowing experience from the point of the ridiculous.
Coming out of that spar I thought this has got to be the biggest money heist in the history of money. This guy is so terrible and he’s going to fight Mayweather, probably the best boxer in the history of the sport. Even though he’s retired, Mayweather is going to beat this guy with his eyes closed. And that’s basically how it went. He played with them.
I remember I went to the dressing room to talk to Floyd after the fight, I said ‘Floyd, why weren’t you cutting him off?’ Because that’s where I gave Conor a lot of trouble cutting off the ring, and Floyd said ‘I had to make the fight last, I couldn’t just stop him in a few rounds, and if I cut the ring I’m going to end up stopping him in a few rounds.’ And now I understand the genius of Floyd because if you keep just blowing these guys out too fast then no one is going to buy the exhibitions. Floyd gets in there against these guys who have no hope, but he gives the fans their money’s worth in terms of allowing the rounds to go, and people continue to buy them more and more because they know they’re going to get their money’s worth. From that perspective it’s brilliant. But it was a big money heist and Floyd knew it was a big money heist because if you look at when he walked into the ring he put on a ski mask because even he knew he was robbing the bank.
We’ll never see real footage of me sparring Conor McGregor
Malignaggi – MMA fans got the wrong idea about the Conor spar because I ended up fighting Artem Lobov in bareknuckle and lost on points, but you have to be smart enough to see what you were watching. I’m fighting one handed for three out five rounds because I broke my hand in round two, so I’m fighting in a high IQ boxing style that I did not intend to fight in because I knew if you fight in a high IQ boxing style that fanbase is nowhere near intelligent enough to see what they’re watching, including the judges as well because unfortunately it was MMA judges.
So what ended up happening is people then said – if you can’t beat Artem you must have got out boxed by Conor. Boxing fans didn’t really take to that fight, they didn’t really give it attention. Only MMA fans watched it and cared for it. So when the only opinions are coming from a core fan base that probably has an IQ of maximum 55-60, you never have any chance of getting an educated opinion.
But I give Conor credit because he also knows his fanbase has a very low IQ. He knows he can play them if he wants to – and he does. So I don’t think we will ever get the real footage of the spar. I actually know you’ll never get the real footage because the real footage embarrasses Conor. So you’ll probably still continue to have these opinions of it.
I can laugh about my mid-fight haircut now
Malignaggi: “I can laugh about it now. It was more than I bargained for when I got those braids done. I finished up my training camp for that fight in Sicily, in Italy. I actually wanted Cornrows. I found an African woman that did braiding in Sicily. She was Senegalese, very nice woman who said – I’ll make you these Jamaican style braids, these are cool. My hair was already long because I was growing it out for the braids but she added extensions and made them really long.
My girlfriend at the time called me from New York and said ‘are you out of your mind that’s going to get in your face’. She was right, so mid fight I decide to do what Lennox Lewis does and tape them up but my hair is not like his hair, it’s not the same kind of hair. Lovemore N’dou was a really solid veteran because you know what he did in the clinch, he kept raking the tape off of my hair. He kept rubbing that tape out of my hair, that way the tape would come off – very, very clever on his part, so I would wind up with no tape on the hair and it would be in my face again.
I had started to build a comfortable lead despite the hair. And then I broke my hand at the end of round six I believe. I threw my right hand to his stomach and I hit him in the elbow. My right hand broke. After that I was one-handed, and I couldn’t see that good because of the hair. So now I had an extra obstacle to overcome, and Lovemore started fighting his way back into a fight and began winning some rounds.
At that point my corner had had enough. They were past the point of asking me if they could cut my hair. They just took the scissors and cut my hair without my permission. I didn’t resist when they were cutting the hair, I reluctantly gave in because I could see he was getting back into the fight and, like I said, my right hand was broken. It ended up being a nip and tuck battle, a tough close fight.
Tommy Fury shouldn’t challenge for world titles
Malignaggi: “No, I don’t think he will be able to chase world titles. He would have to really dedicate himself to a different level if he was going to chase titles. It looks like he lives pretty comfortably and it would require sacrifices from that life in order to chase world titles.
And I just don’t think it’s even worth it for him. I think he’s fine the way he is. He’s got enough ability to win on the influencer level. I wouldn’t expect Tommy to win a major world title, but I still think it’d be interesting to watch him again. ”