It’s not every often that a broadcaster gets in the face of a main event fighter just days before an event, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this week when Showtime analyst Paulie Malignaggi confronted Conor McGregor ahead of his bout with Floyd Mayweather.
Malignaggi spent some time with McGregor in his training camp where the two fighters engaged in a pair of sparring session before they suffered a falling out.
Malignaggi left the camp and then went on a tirade through dozens of interviews, slamming McGregor and the perception that he got the worse of their exchanges during the sparring sessions.
It all boiled over earlier this week when Malignaggi confronted McGregor during his arrival to the MGM Grand for a media obligation leading up to the fight. Mayweather then later hinted that he was working on strategy with Malignaggi after he sparred with McGregor for 20 total rounds over the course of two weeks.
It all adds up to Malignaggi not exactly appearing to be the most unbiased participant in the fight between Mayweather and McGregor and that could become a conflict of interest considering he’s part of the broadcast team on Showtime calling the pay-per-view on Saturday night.
“I’m an ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’ guy,” Malignaggi explained when speaking to FS1 on why he won’t be biased during his commentary. “Just like I explained to you the ‘knockdown’ [in sparring], the ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’ of it, the dynamics of that ‘knockdown’ and I explain that stuff when I’m on the broadcast, too. So when I explain things on the broadcast in this way, I’m allowing you to follow along. I’m not telling you to take sides, I’m not telling anybody to take sides. I’m going to tell you what Conor may do. I’m going to tell you what Floyd may do as it’s happening. Something different may be happening, I’m going to explain to you what’s happening instead or if those things are happening. So you kind of just start to follow along.
“A lot of the time if things I’m explaining start to happen, the viewer can follow along a little better. Then I’ll tell you the adjustment that needs to be made. There’s no opinion there cause anybody can give an opinion.”
It’s hard to argue against the logic that Malignaggi has an agenda going against McGregor considering the rocky relationship they’ve shared not to mention his friendship with Mayweather that was relevant as recently as Thursday night during his final training session ahead of the fight.
Still, Malignaggi insists that his heart doesn’t lie with either fighter once the broadcast begins because he’s only there to give a technical breakdown of what happened and what’s about to happen in the ring.
“Because there’s no places to put your heart when you’re commentating,” Malignaggi said. “Can you put an opinion on ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’? Can you put your opinion on the dynamics of what’s happening? If I’m explaining to you that Conor should be throwing a left hand differently than he is or if Floyd Mayweather should be using this particular punch instead of this particular punch, if he is or isn’t and then it starts to happen, I’m going to explain to you why it should be that way.
“There’s no room for opinion there. Anybody can give an opinion. Not anybody can break down the action like I break it down.”