Considering the promotional bang Conor McGregor received from Paulie Malignaggi, it wouldn’t surprise us if the UFC lightweight champion demands the Showtime boxing analyst be removed from the network’s pay-per-view telecast of his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. next Saturday night (Aug. 26) in Las Vegas.
McGregor, and UFC boss Dana White, got much more than one sparring session out of Malignaggi. They got another hook to sell the fight. They should now take it to the max and confront Malignaggi, make him another target by demanding Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinosa (whom McGregor nicknamed “The Weasel”) pull Paulie from the broadcast team.
Create another controversy to sell the fight.
Malignaggi has to take major responsibility for this mess. He made the mistake of agreeing to accept McGregor’s invitation to be one of his sparring partners. Malignaggi flew across the country to Vegas and on Aug. 3, just 24 hours after he landed, got in the ring with McGregor and went 12 rounds. White released video designed to bolster his claim that McGregor dominated the session. The video released by White appears to show Malignaggi being knocked down by a McGregor combination and taking a hard left to the face.
Malignaggi said he was pushed, not punched, to the canvas by McGregor. Malignaggi told Yahoo Sports McGregor had a “hidden agenda.” No kidding. Malignaggi was played by someone he should never have trusted. He only has himself to blame. And if he couldn’t see the potential pitfalls of a high profile TV boxing analyst being a sparring partner for a fighter preparing for a mega event, someone at Showtime like Espinosa should have told him not to go.
Also, it was not made clear if McGregor paid Malignaggi for his sparring duties. It stands to reason Malignaggi would want compensation in return for his work, right?
Malignaggi is now more a promotional vehicle than objective TV analyst for Mayweather-McGregor.
McGregor could not pay Malignaggi enough for what he’s provided. Who knows, maybe Showtime likes the idea of Malignaggi being part of the story in the run-up to the fight.
How much bigger a part of the story will depend on how much hostility McGregor and White direct at him. During the promotional tour, someone involved in the hype told us McGregor was “running out of insults” to throw at Mayweather. That’s not the case with Malignaggi.
If the majority of PPV buys come from the UFC universe of fans, which we believe will be the case, then making Malignaggi a target of McGregor’s barbs, a villain, would be beneficial to PPV sales. Yet, this whole situation smells. That’s why Showtime should give Malignaggi next week, including fight night, off.
That won’t happen. For in an event as big as this, PPV sales take precedence over everything.
Including Paulie Malignaggi’s credibility.
A FIRST TAKE
The crew at ESPN’s “First Take” should be saluted for devoting so much time to discuss its own network’s “slave” auction disguised as a Fantasy Football draft.
The debate, a two-on-one affair Will Cain vs. Stephen A. Smith/Max Kellerman was riveting. It also left us with some questions. The debaters, especially Smith and Kellerman, highlighted ESPN management’s role in employing a diverse staff.
Question: If ESPN is so “diverse,” how come there were apparently no black executives in the meeting where this brilliant idea of having an auction was hatched? It’s one thing to have a diverse roster, but if you don’t put the players in the right position in this case, the Fantasy Football production meeting what good is all that diversity?
So it appears while diversity is not a problem at ESPN, management stupidity is. You can applaud all you want about employing staffers who bring a certain sensitivity and life experience to the organization, but if you don’t use them properly you are not maximizing their skills and insights.
This is no small point, but it’s not made to detract from the fact “First Take” put its own network under the microscope. At a time where the social fabric of our nation is being pushed through the everlasting Grinder of Ignorance, sports cannot, and should not, be a place to escape. Reality is not leaving town any time soon.
It was mind boggling to listen to both sports talk stations in town and hear little from the Voices about what is happening in our country. Instead we heard intense debate over whether Terry Collins should have pinch hit Jose Reyes for Dom Smith in the ninth inning of Subway Series Game 2. Or a screaming skull host (Don La Greca) banning a caller for asking a question he considered stupid.
This can be attributed to the “stick to sports” mentality that runs these stations. It also can be attributed to management, mostly white, of these sports talk outlets taking a more conservative approach to operating their shops.
Sadly there will be more “opportunities” for the Ostrich approach to change. Don’t hold your breath waiting.
BENIGNO’S BAD DAY
Gee, is it any surprise Joe Benigno came to the WFAN mike in a bad mood during the Subway Series?
He did nothing to tarnish his Loveable Loser reputation. Benigno entertained as well. Especially when he took some well-placed shots at SNY’s Gary (Net Negative) Cohen for not displaying more venom toward the Yankees during the Subway Series.
“What did Gary do? Go out to monument and kiss Joe D’s (retired) number before the game?” Benigno asked.
This was hard to figure. Cohen, subtly (and sometimes not so), has indicated he despises the Yankees. Maybe Joey B is still ticked over the perception Cohen played a role in driving Daniel Murphy out of town.
POPE SAYS NO TO YES
They would have to hold this interview in a stadium with a retractable roof.
Not because it would draw a large crowd, but it would need the space to fit their big heads (literally and figuratively) in the room. On 98.7, Michael Kay revealed Francesa was invited to be interviewed on YES’ Center Stage, but declined.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: AARON JUDGE
For continuing to be true to himself. Have not seen anyone rock so steady in a long time. No matter if he’s breaking consecutive strikeout records or launching tape measure homers, Judge’s song remains the same. In an era of show offs, narcissists and goof balls this guy doesn’t admire his play. He runs to first base with his head down. He even answers the media’s questions over and over again. When is Wheaties gonna sign him up?
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: NEVADA STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSION
In boxing matches above 147 pounds, 10-ounce gloves are required to ensure more padding. That didn’t matter to the banana commission in Vegas, charged with upholding fighter safety, when it approved 8-ounce gloves for Mayweather vs McGregor because the fighters requested it. Who is in charge here? You already know that.
What Brandon Marshall said: “I wasn’t surprised (by Sheldon Richardson’s comments), but there’s so much good energy here….I don’t have time to go back to that. That’s dead.”
What Brandon Marshall meant to say: “I’m a Giant now. I stick to the script.”
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