Petruzelli, who agreed to take the headlining bout on less than three hour’s notice after Ferguson’s opponent, Ken Shamrock, was cut in warm-ups and deemed medically ineligible to compete, clipped Ferguson out of the gate with a right jab. Petruzelli’s 14-second TKO stoppage aired live on CBS to 4.56 million viewers.
The following Monday, Petruzelli made comments on a local morning talk show that insinuated EliteXC promoters had arranged for the fighter to keep the bout from going to the mat for an extra fee.
Ferguson, who made his name in backyard brawls captured and viewed by millions on the Internet, had a clear disadvantage on the canvas due to his lack of time training in the sport.
Petruzelli and EliteXC officials have both since clarified the pre-fight transaction as a knockout bonus offer made in the locker room prior to the fight, but fans, media outlets, and rival promotions -- including the UFC -- were up in arms over the commission’s initial decision not to investigate what some have called “a fix.”
Alexis Antonacci, a Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation representative speaking on behalf of the FSBC, told Sherdog.com that the commission’s initial review of Petruzelli’s comments deemed an investigation unnecessary.
“Our original interpretation of his comments was that he was paid more to move up the card, to be moved up in the event,” she said.
Media outlets, including ESPN and Sports Illustrated, had their own interpretations though. After “10 to 20 calls” from the media, Antonacci said the FSBC decided to forgo standard protocol requiring the filing of a formal complaint to look into the deal made between fighter and promoter.
“We still have not received a formal complaint, but we thought it would be best to go ahead and open up an investigation,” she said Tuesday.
Antonacci said she was unaware if any other state commissions or rival promotions had placed calls to the FSBC.
The investigation, which Antonacci anticipates will last for a week and a half to two weeks, will include an interview with the promotion, she said. Antonacci said Petruzelli may or may not be queried afterward, depending on what the commission surmises from EliteXC’s statements.
“We have no reason to believe wrongdoing occurred,” she stated. “We stand by that at this time.”
Jeremy Lappen, Head of Fight Operations for EliteXC, did not return call for comment Tuesday.