As Paulie Malignaggi watches Conor McGregor fight Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas, he will be looking out for one thing in particular: character.
Speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball on Monday night, Malignaggi - who sparred Conor McGregor twice in training camp before leaving in acrimonious circumstances - questioned the Irishman's bravery.
You'll more so see somebody's character. What I noticed about Conor was not his ability to take a punch or not take a punch, what I noticed about Conor was he's not the bravest guy one you are beating him up. That is something I will look for on Saturday night. I will look to see if he's overcome that or not. He's not the bravest guy.
Malignaggi - a two-weight world champion - said that he went into training camp with a preconceived notion that McGregor might be lacking in character due to his actions during the 2016 loss to Nate Diaz. What he saw in person did nothing to dispel that notion.
It was something I already had in my mind, I really wanted to see how brave this guy is. I still wasn't convinced.
Both times I sparred him, two days later he did not want to spar. We were supposed to spar and then spar again two days later. The first time he canceled sparring on me and the second time he canceled sparring on me.
The New Yorker said that he feels McGregor is a completely different character when under pressure.
One common is core in a fighter - be it Mixed Martial Arts or a boxer - you need character. You only have the ability to show character when you're in trouble, when you're tired, when you're hurting - this guy has no character.
He's more so like a bully. When he's got the advantage, when he's better or whatever, he's loud, obnoxious. Start putting hands on him and you'll see a totally different person come out.
That's more so what I'm curious about Saturday night because he will catch a bad beating. I want to see if he tries to fight back and I don't mean in the first two or three rounds, I mean when it's getting really bad after round six - how much is he trying to fight back?
John Kavanagh disclosed several weeks back that a boxing trainer had not been introduced to the McGregor camp. That is a decision which Malignaggi believes was driven by McGregor's inability to take criticism.
He has no teachers, so there's no way he's going to learn anything. He has a bunch of cheerleaders in his corner. Even if he has a bad round, they tell him he's having a good round.
He thinks he's winning rounds when really he's losing them. I assume that can only be because he goes back to the corner and they tell him, 'Good round'. Some rounds, it is nice work. Sometimes he does well, sometimes he doesn't.
It's important for a fighter not to be lied to in the corner but Conor wants to be lied to; Conor wants to have the advantage; Conor wants to be praised, that's just the person he is. He doesn't take criticism too well.
In particular, Malignaggi had some harsh words for Artem Lobov, one of McGregor's training partners for the fight.
There was one time he was sparring these MMA guys. I think his name was Artem. The guy was like a punching bag all over the ring to the point where I thought to myself, 'If Conor gets out of the ring right now and hits the Everlast heavy bag, it's probably better work' because at the least the heavy bag has some resistance because it's so big. This guy is totally useless in the ring with him. I think Conor likes to give himself confidence even if it's false confidence.