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Mike Tyson's airplane punching bag apparently did not appreciate becoming the former heavyweight champion's airplane punching bag.
The man, identified as Melvin Townsend III, seen getting pummeled by Tyson in a video that went viral Thursday has lawyered up and could bring a lawsuit against the boxer, the lawyer, Matt Morgan, told TMZ.
Morgan presented Townsend's side of the events on the fateful JetBlue flight, which ended with Townsend sporting bloody cuts on his head and Tyson reportedly exiting the airplane, via TMZ:
"Our client is a big Mike Tyson fan. When Mike Tyson boarded the plane, he became overly excited. At first, their interaction was cordial."
He goes on ... "At a certain point, Mr. Tyson clearly became agitated by an overly excited fan and began to strike him in an excessive manner. This situation could have been avoided simply by contacting the flight attendant. Our client denies throwing a water bottle prior to being struck by Mr. Tyson."
Tyson's camp had previously alleged that Townsend threw a water bottle at Tyson while harassing the boxer, per ESPN:
"Unfortunately, Mr. Tyson had an incident on a flight with an aggressive passenger who began harassing him and threw a water bottle at him while he was in his seat."
Video of the incident published by TMZ shows a seemingly drunk Townsend repeatedly bothering Tyson, who was sitting in front of him. Some time later, video shows Tyson turned backward raining punches down on Townsend, then the aftermath of a stunned-looking Townsend showing his wounds.
The alleged water bottle throwing is not seen.
While Tyson's camp portrayed Townsend's conduct as harassment, Morgan told TMZ that Tyson should have exercised greater restraint considering his well-known punching power:
Morgan says, "To state the obvious, as one of the greatest fighters of all time, Mr. Tyson should have exercised greater restraint before using his hands on an overly excited fan."
Tyson has not boxed professional since 2005, but the former champ has taken part in a few exhibition bouts over the years, most recently facing fellow champion Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition match in November 2020.