You can decide for yourself the degree to which this incident between Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov is kayfabe. Malignaggi and Lobov are doing some advanced media buildup ahead of an anticipated Bare Knuckle FC bout tentatively scheduled for June 22. Lobov has to get past UFC veteran Jason Knight in a bout Saturday night, but he appears to be looking ahead to Malignaggi. Those two went chest to chest at Mendez Boxing Gym in New York on Tuesday, a confrontation that involved a lot of Malignaggi’s insanely grating staccato countertenor shit-talking, and a rude little left-handed slap:
Lobov told MMA Fighting that Malignaggi was adamant that the two men not throw hands in any confrontation, and then immediately violated his own condition with what Malignaggi described as “a bitch slap for a bitch.”
“He himself was saying, no, no, no,” Lobov said in a phone interview. “And then he just got a little cheap shot in. That’s the only way he can fucking get hands on me, a cheap shot. But whatever. Fuck it. Does he think that’s gonna upset me? I’m a fucking fighter. I walk through head kicks, you think I’m gonna give a fuck about that? Whatever, brush it off, move on. Let’s go, let’s see what you got when we actually square off in the ring.”
It’s worth noting, as MMA Fighting does, that the last time Lobov was slapped ahead of a scheduled bout, Conor McGregor flew across the Atlantic and threw warehouse equipment at a bus, setting in motion the sequence of events that led to the chaos of UFC 229. Lobov says that’s not a concern, here, because he is very much looking forward to smashing Malignaggi up in the ring, and wouldn’t want any extracurriculars to interfere with their big date.
Even if this tiff is just stupid posturing bullshit, I feel comfortable saying that Lobov deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for enduring thirty seconds of Malignaggi’s infuriating voice without doing extreme violence, possibly to his own ears.