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Slice-Petruzelli fight under investigation

October 9, 2008 | 10:29 pm

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A Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation official has told ESPN.com the government body that oversees the state's boxing commission has opened a preliminary investigation into Kimbo Slice's knockout loss to little-known Seth Petruzelli on Saturday.

"While the Department of Business and Professional Regulation doesn't have any reason to believe there was a problem with the Slice-Petruzelli fight, given the interest in it, the department has begun a preliminary investigation to thoroughly review the circumstances of the fight," Jennifer Meale, Communications Director for the DBPR, told ESPN.com.

When The Times contacted a department spokeswoman late Wednesday, she said there was no formal complaint filed; thus no plans for an investigation.

The fight's outcome was stunning given Slice's popularity built in YouTube-aired street fights. But Petruzelli added a new wrinkle on Monday when he told an Orlando, Fla., radio station he was approached by Elite XC promoters before the fight and told he'd earn extra money if he made it a stand-up bout -- which plays to Slice's strength.

Pro Elite, the fight organization's parent company, is in financial duress. Many mixed martial arts web sites pounced on the idea that a near fix was ordered -- the thinking boosted by the fact the company was desperate to keep its most popular fighter unbeaten as it angles for cash from CBS, which televised the Slice bout as a main event with more than four million viewers watching.

Jeremy Lappen, head of fight operations for Pro Elite, wasn't immediately available when The Times attempted to contact him late Thursday, but he told ESPN.com he wasn't concerned about the investigation. He told The Times Wednesday the situation was a "non-story," because he was confident no one from his organization attempted to manipulate the outcome.

Petruzelli has since altered his comments to say he was referring to winning a knockout bonus by keeping the fight a stand-up exchange.

Rival promoter Dana White of the more powerful MMA organization Ultimate Fighting Championship said the questions about the fight "makes me sick to my stomach."

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Seth Petruzelli celebrates his victory over Kimbo Slice. Credit: EliteXC/CBS.

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