Paulie Malignaggi is stepping out of retirement and will venture into a new form of combat sports competition after signing a contract with a bareknuckle boxing promotion.
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship announced Thursday that Malignaggi is expected to make his promotional debut in June.
“This is great signing for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship,” BKFC founder and president David Feldman said in a press release. “At this time in our company’s growth, we needed to add a legitimate and well-established world champion boxer to our roster, and I believe with Paulie’s ability and personality we’ve done just that. Paulie is the perfect fit for us.”
Malignaggi last fought professionally two years ago. The former world champion also gained notoriety working as an acclaimed ringside boxing analyst for years and made headlines in the summer of 2017 after developing a rivalry with UFC superstar Conor McGregor in the lead-up to McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The 38-year-old helped McGregor prepare for Mayweather, but their personalities clashed during several sparring sessions and Malignaggi has not forgotten.
Malignaggi’s first bareknuckle opponent is yet to be determined but one possibility is McGregor’s training partner Artem Lobov, who is scheduled to fight fellow former UFC featherweight Jason Knight in April. If Lobov wins that bout, a Lobov-Malignaggi tilt is something BKFC will consider, according to multiple reports.
“BKFC is the new wave in combat sports. They’re doing great things and I’m very excited to be a part of this organization,” Malignaggi said. “I’ve accomplished some big things in boxing career, and I look forward to what this next phase brings. After a long boxing career, it’s easy to miss the limelight and the rush that combat brings. I look forward to getting back in action and the new challenge of fighting for BKFC.”