By Keith Idec
The last time Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov were together, Malignaggi slapped Lobov in the face.
On Monday, Malignaggi spit in Lobov’s face.
Malignaggi, a former two-division world champion and Showtime analyst, repeatedly yelled at Lobov to stop pointing his finger at him as they stood a few feet apart at the end of their press conference in Manhattan. Separated by security guards, Malignaggi lunged toward Lobov and spit at him to further infuriate the former UFC fighter.
Malignaggi, 38, and Lobov, 32, were promoting their Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships main event June 22 in Tampa, Florida. The Malignaggi-Lobov bout will headline a pay-per-view show from Florida State Fairgrounds Entertainment Hall ($39.99).
Brooklyn’s Malignaggi lambasted Lobov throughout their expletive-filled press conference at Dave & Buster’s in Times Square.
“I’ve always been known as one of the toughest guys in boxing,” Malignaggi said. “Lobov is known as a punching bag, with a loud mouth. … If I had it my way, I’d knock him out in the last round. I want to pummel him from start to finish. He’s gonna come out trying hard, and then he’s gonna get gun shy. He’s gonna hesitate to even take a step.”
Malignaggi (36-8, 7 KOs) retired from boxing after England’s Sam Eggington knocked him out in the eighth round of their March 2017 fight at O2 Arena in London.
“I’m always looking for my next challenge,” Malignaggi said. “I wasn’t planning on this, but it was sold to me and it appealed to me. Artem is a punching bag and I usually hit that for free.”
Russia’s Lobov is a former stablemate of UFC superstar Conor McGregor, with whom Malignaggi has had a contentious relationship since they sparred before McGregor’s fight against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017. Lobov, who went 13-15-1 (1 NC) during his MMA career, signed a three-fight contract with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships once UFC released him in January.
“I feel I have the upper hand in this fight,” Lobov said. “With age, it’s easier to get knocked out. He’s never hurt anybody in the ring, so it’s gonna be a bad matchup for him. I see me stopping him. He doesn’t want it anymore. In order to be a fighter and really compete, you have to have the fire. His fire is long gone.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.