A passenger on a JetBlue flight who was punched repeatedly by former world champion boxer Mike Tyson hired a lawyer, signaling a possible lawsuit, TMZ reported Friday.
"Our client is a big Mike Tyson fan. When Mike Tyson boarded the plane, he became overly excited," attorney Matt Morgan from Morgan & Morgan, who represents passenger Melvin Townsend III, told TMZ Friday. "At first, their interaction was cordial."
In a viral video posted online, the former boxing champion is seen repeatedly punching Townsend, who was seated behind him.
Morgan said that Townsend was a fan of Tyson's prior to the incident on the JetBlue plane in San Francisco on Wednesday, and that Tyson "became agitated" and struck Townsend repeatedly.
"At a certain point, Mr. Tyson clearly became agitated by an overly excited fan and began to strike him in an excessive manner," Morgan told the news outlet. “This situation could have been avoided simply by contacting the flight attendant."
TMZ reported that San Francisco Police said they responded to the incident and detained two people they believed to be involved.
Townsend was reportedly treated for non-life-threatening injuries, but only "provided minimal details of the incident and refused to cooperate further with the police investigation."
Representatives for Tyson said Thursday that Townsend was "harassing" the boxing star and threw a water bottle at him before Tyson hit him.
A separate video of part of the incident shows an excited Townsend trying to talk to Tyson from his seat, and then cuts to the aftermath showing cuts and abrasions to Townsend's head after Tyson hit him.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Tyson had an incident on a flight with an aggressive passenger who began harassing him," Tyson's representatives told TMZ on Thursday, "and threw a water bottle at him while he was in his seat."
Morgan denied the water bottle claim.
San Francisco Police said they viewed the videos of the altercation and were referring the case to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
Tyson was on the plane to travel to Miami to speak at the Cannabis Capital Conference on Thursday night, but had to cancel "due to a flight change," according to TMZ.
Tyson became the youngest heavyweight boxing champion in history at the age of 20 in 1986 when he beat Trveor Berbick for the title, which he held until a 1990 upset at the hands of James "Buster" Douglas.
Later, he was convicted in 1992 of raping Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room in July, 1991, according to History.com.
He claimed the sex was consensual but served three years of a 10-year prison sentence.
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