Mayweather criticizes Conor McGregor’s sparring session with Paulie Malignaggi

Floyd Mayweather is largely facing the unknown when it comes to Conor McGregor’s boxing skills when they step into the ring together next Saturday night but he at least got a small taste based on some video that was released last week.

UFC president Dana White put out two separate clips totaling about 20 seconds of a sparring session McGregor had with retired two-division boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi.

The footage showcased McGregor largely beating up Malignaggi including one barrage that ended with the New York native hitting the ground, although he’s argued it was from a push and not a punch that landed.

On Thursday, Mayweather revealed how he felt about the footage but he had to point out that McGregor probably shouldn’t have been sparring Malignaggi in the first place.

“At the end of the day, it only counts once you get under the lights. That’s just the gym,” Mayweather said during a media conference call. “We are sitting down here judging Paulie [Malignaggi], a guy that’s been retired and been commentating and traveling the world and not going to the gym at all going in there with a guy that’s just working up.

“An athlete period that’s just working up, everyday, everyday and obviously it shouldn’t even have went 12 rounds with a young guy that’s an athlete.”

As far as the little bit of video that was released, Mayweather criticized McGregor for several illegal tactics that he used against Malignaggi.

In fact, referee Joe Cortez, who was hired to help McGregor learn the rules of boxing, penalized him two points during the 12-round session with Malignaggi.

“My thoughts is I think it was real interesting but a lot of illegal rabbit punching behind the head, a lot of stuff that was illegal. A lot of grappling, a lot of wrestling, a lot of illegal shots. That’s just my opinion,” Mayweather said.

“I’m pretty sure the referee’s going to be fair on both side. I want the referee to be fair and treat both competitors, myself and Conor McGregor, treat us both, be even and treat us fair. I just want to have a good solid fight.”

For their fight on Aug. 26, Robert Byrd will serves as the third man in the ring after the Nevada State Athletic Commission named him referee during a meeting on Wednesday.

Byrd is best known as a hands off referee, who will typically allow the fighters to continue fighting unless they get locked in a clinch and then at that point he will typically shout to break them apart rather than getting physically involved.

Mayweather says he has every confidence in Byrd to call the fight right down the middle, although he did seem to admonish McGregor for some dirty tactics in that sparring session with Malignaggi.

“I truly believe the ref’s going to do his job. The referee’s job is to make sure he’s keeping the bout clean. I want to have a good fight,” Mayweather said. “Like I said on numerous occasions building up to this fight, I’m coming straight ahead so he don’t have nothing to worry about. I look forward to following the Queensberry rules of boxing and I’m pretty sure he looks forward to following the Queensberry rules of boxing.

“He had Joe Cortez in his training, which is a great thing. Even though he had Joe Cortez in his training camp, I still seen him being extremely dirty. My job is not to worry about the referee. My job is to go out there and fight and let the referee do his job.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.