Paulie Malignaggi knows boxing. The former two-division world champion-turned-commentator breaks down fights in ways that even fringe fans can understand.
Malignaggi also knows his stuff when it comes to sneakers.
Ahead of the much hyped fight between boxing icon Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts standout Conor McGregor on Aug. 26, Malignaggi spoke with Footwear News about the fight and also shared how he chose his training camp sneakers and fight night boxing boots.
During your career, what did your training camp footwear range look like?
“For my running sneakers, I usually picked Mizuno or Asics for the most part. For my boxing, I preferred my competition boots to be either Mizuno or Adidas. Mizuno makes some comfortable running shoes, and Asics as well. I was less picky about my running sneakers, to be honest, but you need them to be comfortable because you’re going to put a lot of miles on them and you don’t want your feet hurting. I felt like with Mizuno and Asics, I could use them for a lot of miles and barely break them in. In the ring, Mizuno and Asics were my favorites for both style and comfort. Sometimes you can have style with no comfort or comfort with no style. I felt Mizuno and Adidas were well-rounded that gave me both style and comfort in the ring.”
What do you look for in a boxing boot?
“Comfort and style. I needed style, I tried to be flashy inside the ring so I couldn’t have a boxing booth that was comfortable but boring. And I couldn’t have a boxing boot that was stylish but uncomfortable. But comfort was the most important thing, you want to be able to move fluidly inside the ring when you need to. In the ring, I wanted to feel like I was wearing socks, but with a little bit of grip. Not too much grip; some boxing shoes have too much grip, they almost feel like I’m wearing a sneaker, and I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing sneakers inside the ring. I did a lot of pivoting and moving inside the ring, so I needed the shoe to be able to grip the canvas but not grip it to the point where they’re affecting my ability to pivot and spin around.”
How important is it to find the right footwear to train in?
“It’s important because if you’re not comfortable in what you’re training in, you’re not going to get the maximum out of your training. You’re going to be cheating on your steps because your feet might be hurting, or you’re not getting the right footing on your workouts, and that’s affecting your form and function. Form is everything in athletics; you need ability, but you also need fundamentals. A bad shoe can mess up those fundamentals.”
Outside of the ring, what are you wearing? What dominates your footwear collection?
“It’s sneaker dominant. When I wear suits I mostly wear shoes, for my commentating gigs, but it’s mainly sneaker dominant. I have a collection of Air Jordans. I collect Air Jordans and Reebok Pumps because when I was a kid we didn’t have money, so I couldn’t afford to have those shoes. I would see kids rocking the new Air Jordan or Reebok Pumps to school and I wanted them, but I couldn’t get them. When I started making some money, they started bringing back retro Jordans and Reebok Pumps. I bought a ton of them, I have closets full of them now. The [Air Jordan] 1s through the 6s were my favorites because that was the era when I was the most poor and couldn’t get any of them.”
Mayweather-McGregor Fight Prediction
“I think you favor Floyd Mayweather. At first glance, it’s pretty hard to look at that fight and think of anything but a Mayweather victory. But then you think of McGregor: He’s a big puncher, he’s a bigger guy, and Mayweather is 40 years old and hasn’t fought in two years. All of a sudden, you start thinking this isn’t so black and white after all. If [McGregor] wins, it’s a huge upset. Look at the intangible things: McGregor is not a hopeless guy just jumping in there. McGregor is in his prime and a natural, bona fide athlete who can hit very hard, and I’m sure he’ll have a game plan in place for Floyd.”
What would it take for you to ever get in the ring again?
“Probably nothing. I wouldn’t say nothing, everything has a price, I guess. Probably a lot of money. Other than that, something has to motivate me to summon up that desire to go to camp and train every day, but also make weight. Making weight becomes so much more difficult as you get older, your body doesn’t lose weight the same way, and you don’t feel the same way when you lose weight. Also, in training camp, you suffer more injuries as you get older. The last two years of my career I did not go through a training camp where I was healthy at the end of it, there was always little muscle tears or muscle pulls. For me to go back it would take something very special to get that motivation, and I don’t see that happening.”
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