By Michael Lekkas @Sweetscienceof
On the 22nd of June in Florida, Paulie Malignaggi fights Artem Lobov in Florida in the main event of the recently formed Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, the fight is a pay-per-view main event.
It’s being billed as a grudge match that climaxed at a recent media day and press conference in which Paulie spat on Lobov:
Followed it up at the press conference by spitting in his face and telling him he is going to put him in a coma…
The history and probably the sole reason for the animosity between the two can be traced back to the indifference shared between both Paulie and Lobov’s long time stable mate and sparring partner Conor McGregor.
That relationship came to boiling point after a sparring session in the lead up to McGregors fight with pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather on 26 August 2017.
In which each claim they got the better of the other and no lengthy footage, bar several small clips have been released to prove one or the other wrong or right.
The real question however is not how the feud started, but why. The why dates back Sunday the 13 November 2016 when The Irishman made history this month when he became the first fighter to hold two UFC belts simultaneously with a second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez to claim the the lightweight title. After which McGregor posted a photo to twitter depicting both he and Mayweather head to head. On the 1st of December it was reported by McGregors manager to numerous media outlets that McGregor has received his Californian boxing amid claims for a possible Floyd Mayweather bout.
Three days later Malignaggi posted a video on his Twitter account claiming “I have been hearing a lot about this Conor McGregor situation and I got to thinking – you know what I am kind of interested.” He continued with “I know you apologised about absolutely nothing last fight, but after I am done with you – I am going to knock the beard off you homie – you are going to be apologising for everything you have been trying to do to get into boxing.”
However, McGregor responded in typical fashion when the New York native’s comments were put to him at a Q & A event in Northern Ireland. “Who the fuck is that guy?” he said, recalling his famous put down of Jeremy Stephens from the UFC 205 press conference in September. “I don’t know who the fuck that is but I’ll slap the nose off him if he ever mentions my name again.”
The pair traded more insults via social media until Paulie was brought in for that now infamous sparring session in the lead up to the Mayweather showdown. Paulie confronted McGregor about the video and comments made about the sparring session at press conference in the lead up to the Mayweather fight.
The question is why did three days after McGregor received a Californian boxing license did Malignaggi inject himself in the situation by slagging him on social media. Without the December 2016 video with the “ I am going to knock the beard off you homie” comments, we would not of had that mystical sparring session, no pre fight altercation between the two, and no real reason to spit or slap Artem Lobov.
Does Paulie hate both Lobov and McGregor ?
Now I think he does, and that animosity he has for Lobov and McGregor seems genuine, but Paulie is an emotional character, thats what drives to achieve the things he has, he needs that irritation at the thought of someone or at that persons words or actions to get up and run at five in the morning.
One cant help but think that Paulie merely spawned the hate, he improvised by himself or with the help of managers, including possibility McGregors, and he injected himself into a situation with a monetary motive behind it, not knowing himself how big this rivalry would escalate to.
As a result on the 22nd June in Florida, Paulie is fighting a main event pay-per-view, and it has the potential to pay him more than any previous fight has.