ProElite exonerated of wrongdoing in Slice-Petruzelli fight

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations, which oversees the state's boxing commission, concluded its preliminary investigation of the Oct. 4 heavyweight bout between Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson and Seth Petruzelli on Thursday and found no wrongdoing on the part of promoter ProElite.

"The preliminary investigation concluded that there was no legal sufficiency to the claimed violation [Florida statute] 548.058 [1] and therefore no need to move forward with a full investigation," DBPR press secretary Alexis Antonacci told ESPN.com."The case has been closed."

While the investigation exonerates ProElite of wrongdoing, it comes too late. The California-based promotional company went out of business Monday.

Florida State Boxing Commission executive director Thomas Molloy and the DBPR opened the preliminary investigation Oct. 8 after suggestions representatives for ProElite, the parent company of EliteXC, approached Petruzelli and offered him a chance to face Slice if he would agree to fight "standing up."

Petruzelli was approached hours before the fight to fill in for Slice's original opponent, Ken Shamrock, who sustained a deep cut over his left eye during a workout session earlier in the day and was deemed unfit to compete. According to the DBPR report, Petruzelli was offered $35,000 to fight and $15,000 to win. Petruzelli would stop Slice just 14 seconds into the first round.

Molloy and the DBPR reached their conclusion after speaking with fighter David Lee "Tank" Abbott, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer, California State Athletic Commission executive director Armando Garcia, matchmaker J.T. Steele, ProElite vice president of fighter operations Jeremy Lappen and Petruzelli.

Abbott, who faced Slice on Feb. 16, 2008, in Miami, was asked if ProElite suggested he fight a certain way.

"No, nothing was said," Abbott told Molloy.

According to the report, a copy of which was sent to ESPN.com, Molloy asked Kizer and Garcia if either had had problems in the past with a ProElite-promoted event. Each executive director answered no.

Petruzelli, whose comments on an Orlando, Fla., radio show a day after the bout with Slice led to the allegations of fight fixing against ProElite, told Molloy the promoter encouraged him to "just do your best."

Petruzelli also told Molloy "the radio show misconstrued his comments."

Franklin McNeil covers boxing and mixed martial arts for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.