A high volume of inquiries from the media and members of general
public is what led the Florida State Boxing Commission (FSBC) to
begin a preliminary investigation into the circumstances
surrounding a last-minute Oct. 4 matchup between Kevin “Kimbo
Slice” Ferguson and Seth
Petruzelli at EliteXC “Heat.”
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
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
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
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
“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.