Veteran boxing referee Joe Cortez has seen a lot throughout his career, so a little physicality shouldn’t ever come as a surprise to him.
However Cortez revealed the intense physicality of sparring sessions between Conor McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi in preparation for McGregor’s August 26th fight with Floyd Mayweather.
While speaking with SiriusXM Boxing’s Randy Gordon and Gerry Cooney, Cortez shared details about the sparring (h/t Anton Tabuena of SB Nation’s Bloody Elbow).
“He handled himself pretty good with Paulie” Cortez said.
“That guy can pop. He was in there mixing it up a little bit with Paulie, and it was the real thing. They was no messing around. In fact, I had to stop the action, and I had to say, ‘All right, guys, you guys are a little out of control here, you gotta stop this.’ It got a little rough.”
Cortez said he had to stop the trash-talking between the two while also trying to keep the sparring session clean.
“They were both roughing each other up, and I had to stop the action like in a regular fight. They were holding too much, they were trying to punch each other. I mean, it got a little bit out of control where I had to call ‘Time!’
“[I said], ‘All right, guys, you gotta stop this right now. I want a good clean round. Give me sportsmanlike conduct. Understand? I don’t want to take any points from either one of you. Do you understand?’ I looked at them, and they said, ‘OK, all right.’ And I said, ‘Time in.'”
McGregor has earned Malignaggi’s respect as the boxer told Sky Sports (h/t BoxingScene.com):
“It makes me respect McGregor to see his work ethic that he’s put into the training camp. Seeing him work hard every day and see that he’s really determined to upset the odds.”