Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty

So, Conor McGregor’s idea of a suitable sparring partner in preparation for his upcoming fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. is Paulie Malignaggi, a kazoo with a thick Brooklyn accent and boxing gloves. Malignaggi and McGregor have been battling in Las Vegas since mid-July, sparring on July 20 and again on Tuesday.

This most recent session—described as “rough” and “violent” in this ESPN report—went for 12 rounds, and apparently presented Malignaggi with a sharper and improved McGregor, but notably did not include McGregor smashing the absolute bejeezus out of the underpowered and workmanlike Malignaggi, an ominous sign in the buildup to a fight against a boxer whose most recent form was many hundreds of times better than Malignaggi’s career best.

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The session also reportedly struck Malignaggi as a setup, designed to grant McGregor an unfair advantage:

“I didn’t like the fact I had to fly across the country on Monday, and they have me scheduled for 12 [rounds] on Tuesday. I thought it was a little bit of a setup.

“Usually all sparring is private. I show up at the UFC headquarters and [former owner, Lorenzo] Fertitta is there. [UFC president] Dana White is there. So, I’m thinking these guys are thinking they’ll catch me right off the flight, set me up for him to look good in front of his audience. I didn’t like that. I kind of went in with a chip on my shoulder.”

Paulie Malignaggi is a tough and prideful former champion, and he’s been boxing far, far longer than Conor McGregor, and so it should not surprise anyone to learn that McGregor has not knocked him down or otherwise pummeled him into submission during their sparring sessions. It should go without saying, though, that in order to present any sort of challenge to Mayweather, who on his worst day is a better fighter than Malignaggi has ever been, McGregor needs to be comprehensively better than Paulie Malignaggi! If the deck is tilted due to advantageous scheduling, by God McGregor’s got to kick Malignaggi’s ass into next week.

Still hundreds of tickets available for the Aug. 26 mega-fight, you guys.