Conor McGregor's reaction to knocking down Paulie Malignaggi really said it all
While the boxing world continues to poke fun at Conor McGregor's unorthodox style, we like to focus on the positives.
Conor McGregor's going to keep his cards close to his chest right up until August 26, so we cannot help but look back at the brief glimpse we got the hand he's been dealt in more detail.
Until the second week of August, we had seen sweet fuck all of McGregor inside the boxing ring. Sure, we had the endless bombardment of Instagram posts showing his sparring partners getting wailed on, but a snapshot in time isn't as revelatory as actual tape.
All we had to work with before was that footage leaked by former IBO and IBF welterweight champion Chris van Heerden. However, that sparring session happened so long ago, it may not give an accurate indication of how McGregor looks right now.
No thanks https://t.co/Ft1pjkTeiX
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 14, 2017
It is fair to say, however, that McGregor looked excellent in those short snippets we saw from his second session with Paulie Malignaggi.
The former two-time world boxing champion revealed that the knockdown incident took place in either the 11th or 12th round of the bout, which makes McGregor's gas tank all the more impressive. Malignaggi admitted that he wasn't in fight shape, but there was no doubt from McGregor's constant movement proved he is in superb condition ahead of the Money Fight.
In those few seconds, McGregor was clearly the aggressor. The Dubliner was relentless in his attack as Malignaggi stumbled and desperately tried to evade punches thrown from ranges not normally seen from elite-level professional boxers.
Simply incredible https://t.co/G2ymNTK5WG
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 15, 2017
The man in the middle, Hall of Fame boxing referee Joe Cortez, didn't call it a knockdown. Although the clip ends a little early, he audibly shouts 'Whoa!' before stepping in with his palms facing the floor to signify that Malignaggi wasn't knocked down.
What's undeniable is that Malignaggi fell after appearing to be in trouble. He wasn't very sturdy on his feet and whether that was due to fatigue or from being lit up remains to be seen. Shortly after the video was released, McGregor told Ariel Helwani that the retired boxer was concussed due to strikes.
“The ropes kept him up multiple times, he was badly concussed, the sparring partners who were in the house that night were worried about him saying he was incoherent, he was stumbling. It didn’t go good for him."
While we won't be able to verify McGregor's claims until the full sparring session drops, there was evidence to suggest that Malignaggi spent a considerable amount of time on the ropes. The red marks on his side were the telltale signs.
The other big takeaway from the footage was McGregor's reaction to Malignaggi falling arse-first onto the mat. Shamefully, like so many others, we missed this initially, but it was brought to our attention in Luke Thomas' phenomenal breakdown.
Once Malignaggi began his descent, McGregor was still a picture of focus. His gaze firm on the downed opponent as he took a deep breath during a rare mid-scrap break.
After realising what had just happened, his facial expression transformed.took a moment to admire his handy work.
A smile washed across his face as he took a moment to admire his handy work. Right then, McGregor knew he had got the better of the former world champ. knew he had him.
He knew he had him.
Considering how many hundreds of millions of eyes have watched those clips on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, fucking LinkedIn... whatever, it's ridiculous that more people didn't cop McGregor's immediate reaction.
When McGregor first drafted Malignaggi into his fight camp, he vowed that they would 'have a knock' then Malignaggi was "going to have to answer to what he's been saying."
That may very well have been the moment Malignaggi received a very loud and coherent answer to the criticism he fired McGregor's way prior to being brought in as a sparrign partner.
Either that, or it was just very clever editing.