Paulie Malignaggi throwing in towel as Conor McGregor sparring partner

2:21 AM ET

LAS VEGAS — Retired boxer Paulie Malignaggi, hired to be a sparring partner for UFC star Conor McGregor, told ESPN he won’t continue and likely will fly home after photos surfaced Thursday appearing to show McGregor in a favorable light in Tuesday’s 12-round session.

McGregor, who is scheduled to face Floyd Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) in the boxing ring on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena, had twice used Malignaggi, a former two-weight world champion, as a sparring partner.

Malignaggi, Conor have ‘violent’ sparring match

After his second sparring match with Conor McGregor, retired boxer Paulie Malignaggi told ESPN of an intense, “violent” 12 rounds in which he said McGregor showed great improvement from their first session.

“I wanted to be part of this event, but I didn’t want to become the story, and that’s what this has turned into,” Malignaggi told ESPN by phone Thursday night. “I won’t release any information about his game plan or what he’s working on — I wouldn’t do that. But this has

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