Paulie Malignaggi, a former two division world champion, has promised to beat down UFC veteran Artem Lobov when they meet in the ring on Saturday night.
Their bout will headline the next event for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) from Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Fla.
Malignaggi takes part in his first bare knuckle fight, in what has been a very tense pre-fight build to a real grudge match.
Malignaggi wants to use Lobov as a springboard to a much bigger opportunity.
He’s been chasing a fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor for the last two years. And Lobov is a close friend and training partner of McGregor.
Malignaggi aims to make a very big statement in the fight, after the numerous claims by Lobov that Malignaggi is a washed-up former fighter who needs to get a paycheck.
“This is the biggest fight of his career and he only got here because he started with me. I’m going to finish it on Saturday. I’m going to pummel this guy like he stole something. I’m going to teach him some manners. I’ve only been talking because of what his crew started,” Malignaggi said.
“I don’t think there’s a lot to say that hasn’t already been said. This guy is so nervous he’s not going to know what to do when the bell rings. This is a growing sport and it was a pleasant surprise to find out the fight would be here in Florida. I have a second home here and spend a lot of time in the state. It feels good to be competing here.
“I’m not impressed with Artem’s last fight in BKFC. I thought he blew the fight. I thought everyone would realize how bad he is. I’m definitely not second-guessing myself after seeing that performance.”