Let's say you've got a stray cat in your neighborhood.
You've seen the cat scrounging around your house and your neighbor's house for food. You feel sorry for the cat and, one day, you decide to leave a little bowl of milk on the back porch. You watch dutifully from your kitchen window as the cat cautiously makes its way to the milk and laps it up.
The next day, you forget to put milk out, but the cat still comes around. You feed it again. The cat keeps coming back, every day, until you can't get it to leave. You're annoyed because you never wanted a cat in the first place.
Congratulations. You have adopted a cat.
Paulie Malignaggi is that cat. We let him around the house. We fed him. And now we're tired of him, but he won't leave.
Malignaggi, who perhaps became more famous as a short-term training partner of Conor McGregor than he ever did as a boxer, told Fight Hype on Monday night that over a potential McGregor boxing match:
"I know Al Haymon's talking with Dana White. I know they're speaking so if they want the fight, they'll make it. You know, I don't need to do all that because Al Haymon makes anything he wants happen, happen. The only way this doesn't happen—once I spoke to Team Haymon and they told me they were on board to make this fight, I knew they only way it wouldn't happen is if this guy doesn't have absolutely any balls to make it.
"But this fight would pay him more, this fight would get him more exposure, this fight is a bigger fight than anything else he has. There's no more [Floyd] Mayweather fight, this fight is the biggest fight there is. So once they told me that I said, 'All right, the only way this doesn't happen is if this guy has no balls—which wouldn't surprise me because he has no balls—but what I'm saying is, the way they're going to present it to him, it's going to be presented in a way where he really shouldn't turn it down.
"Even if it's not the next fight, even if it's an MMA fight in his next fight, there's no way he should be walking away from this fight unless he has no balls."
If this news surprises you one iota, you haven't paid close attention to McGregor's career arc. You really thought McGregor was itching to return to the UFC and defend his title against Tony Ferguson? Or that he cared one iota about his legacy in the UFC or about vanquishing the notion that he isn't a real champion because a real champion defends his title?
If it hasn't become apparent by now, McGregor has historically cared about one thing: finding his way into the biggest money fight possible. He doesn't care about defending his championships. He doesn't care about the UFC. McGregor is a businessman at his core with a layer of a good fighter painted on top, and Malignaggi, like it or not, is the biggest money fight possible. That's partially due to the beef between the two, but mostly it's due to the fact that McGregor can make a whole lot more money in boxing than he can in mixed martial arts.
So, of course, this news just had to come out. It was a certainty. Even if the fight ultimately doesn't come to fruition right now, it's going to remain there, bubbling under the surface. A lot of that is because Malignaggi seized his moment after that whole training camp brouhaha, and he refused to let it die. Even while serving as a commentator for Showtime, Malignaggi was a pest, and he's never really stopped doing his act. He knows a good thing when he sees one, especially when that good thing is the biggest payday of his career.
The good news from all of this is that if you loved the buildup to Mayweather vs. McGregor, well, this will be pretty much the same thing, except a whole lot more annoying. Malignaggi just has a way of getting under everyone's skin, and I'm already dreading any official interactions between the two men. I have no desire to see the fight, but even more than that, I have no desire to hear either man talk to each other. Nothing good can come from it.
But I'll still watch. I can sit here and tell you I won't, but the truth of the matter is that I'm a sucker for wild, out-of-control fight buildup, even when I can only handle both parties in small doses. McGregor has proved to be at his best in small doses, and Malignaggi is best in no doses at all.
And yet, I know I'll lap it all up. I imagine a lot of you are the same way.
And that's OK. There's nothing to be ashamed of, I don't think. It's something of a guilty pleasure, in a way, because maybe you'd rather be watching anything else instead of McGregor vs. Malignaggi, and yet you can't avert your eyes, and you can't avoid parting with your hard-earned money to see it.
And since eyeballs and money are McGregor's sole ambition, well, maybe we should've seen this coming all along.