Malignaggi outlines why he's McGregor's most realistic option after Mayweather

Paulie Malignaggi has not only publicly entertained the idea of a future pay-per-view boxing grudge match against Conor McGregor, he believes it’s the most realistic immediate option for the UFC champion after facing Floyd Mayweather on Saturday. 

Malignaggi, 36, a retired two-division boxing champion, will be on the call for Showtime as an analyst when the 40-year-old Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) returns from a two-year retirement to face McGregor (21-3 in MMA) in his pro boxing debut at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET). 

But after the very public fallout of Malignaggi’s short-lived run as a sparring partner for McGregor, in which the ex-fighter took umbrage with McGregor’s team leaking photos and videos of McGregor having success, Malignaggi (36-8, 7 KOs) badly wants a shot at revenge for what he called the “dark intentions” of McGregor.

“I’ll tell you it seems realistic when you look at it this way: He has got some tough fights in the UFC that he has to take on if he goes back,” Malignaggi told CBS Sports during an appearance on this week’s “In This Corner” podcast.

Malignaggi referenced the deep pool of opponents hoping for an immediate shot at McGregor’s UFC 155-pound championship (everyone from Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov to Nate Diaz and Jose Aldo), which he won last November by stopping Eddie Alvarez and has yet to defend following a six-month break for paternity leave. 

“There’s no easy out for him in the UFC and he’ll make less money,” Malignaggi said. “His options to stay in boxing are there, but he’s not going to take on a guy in his prime like an Errol Spence who would put him in a hospital. So he can’t do that. 

“You have an ex-world champion who you have a spoken beef with and he’s not an Errol Spence, it’s Paulie Malignaggi. So you think people would give him more of a chance or what not. It has to make sense and it has to make dollars and cents. It has to make sense as far as what are his realistic chances that he thinks in his mind that he has. So when you think about it this way, Paulie Malignaggi becomes a very viable option.” 


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Mailgnaggi believes McGregor, 29, has benefitted from facing a number of his UFC opponents on short notice, which didn’t allow them a full camp to prepare. In essence, the Brooklyn, New York native believes McGregor has maintained a reputation within MMA that isn’t fully earned and believes McGregor would be more willing to leave the sport with his reputation intact. 

“How often is he really beating guys who are fully prepared for him? Is this even a guy who is as good as people are saying?” Malignaggi said. “He has this image of him right now in the Octagon and there are questions about him. So I think he wants to exit the Octagon with this image of him. I don’t think he wants it to be tarnished. 

“So if he returns [to MMA] against these tough opponents who would get a full training camp to prepare for him, I think he’s risking a lot for his image. I think he wants to exit the Octagon on this positive image and then in boxing, whatever happens happens. At least with Mayweather, he’s getting a lot of money and it’s the best fighter of his generation and then we will see where he goes from there. I think [McGregor-Malignaggi] is very viable when you compare the options.” 

Malignaggi retired in March after a knockout loss to unheralded Sam Eggington in England. 

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