Florida mayor fight cancelled following FBI arrest

August 9, 2013

"A Florida man..." has become the lead for a dizzying array of unfortunate stories emanating from the 'Sunshine State.' A recent piece about two Northwest Miami-Dade mayors having an MMA match was unusual, but sorting out differences by having an MMA fight for charity had a reasonable feel to it - whole world might be better if leaders had to sort things out like men.

Florida men Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez were perhaps showing the world a better way.

Or maybe that would lead to Judo black belt Vladimir Putin taking over the world. In any case, as you might expect, the story took a distinctive Florida turn - the bout was called off when one of the mayors was arrested in an FBI sting.

Paradise Afshar from the Miami Herald has the story.

The charity fight between mayors has been called off due to Pizzi’s arrest Tuesday.

Pizzi was arrested Tuesday morning on bribery charges stemming from an FBI sting investigation, along with Sweetwater Mayor Manuel "Manny" Maroño.

Hernandez called the arrests “a very unfortunate event for not only Miami Lakes and Sweetwater, but all of South Florida.” He is also disappointed that he won’t be able to duke it out with Pizzi in the octagon.

The mayors had decided, after swapping tough guy stories over dinner earlier this year, to hold a charity mixed martial arts fight.

Proceeds from the fight, dubbed the “MMA Mayhem at Milander Mayor vs. Mayor,” were to go to children’s charities in both municipalities.

Tickets were sold for the event, and sponsors had even chipped in.

“We were grateful to them, but everything will be refunded,” Hernandez said. “We were disappointed because it was for a good cause.”

Both men had intense workout routines in preparation for the Sept. 6 fight. In fact, Pizzi was at the gym practicing a few hours before his arrest.

“I was training very hard and now I feel that the bride is being left at the altar,” Hernandez said. “Hopefully in the future we can do this again with another mayor or somebody else.”

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That's is Pizzi, 51, on the left:

Pizzi, who had received $6,750 in bribes, was suspended by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

NBC Miami reports that at a billiard club in Miami Lakes on Feb. 28, an undercover agent put a zip-lock bag containing an envelope with $2,000 in cash and two cigars on the edge of a pool table, telling Pizzi the cigars were for him. Pizzi said he didn't smoke. Pizzi then took the zip-lock bag into the men's restroom, and when he returned he did not have the bag in his hands, the complaint noted.

Pizzi's lawyer, Amanda Maxwell, said that her client is an attorney, a public official, and "a man of integrity. Today begins his fight for vindication.”