Airplane passenger punched by Mike Tyson identified as Florida man with criminal history

The man identified as Melvin Townsend III (left) who got into a public fight with Mike Tyson (right) aboard a plane this week has a lengthy rap sheet (Pictures: Florida Department of Corrections/Splash News)

The JetBlue passenger who started a fight with before the flight departed from San Francisco on Wednesday has been identified as a Florida man with a criminal history.

The retired heavy weight champion was headed for Miami when the fight ensued. Video of the altercation shows Tyson turning around in his seat and attacking the man sitting behind him, hitting him several times square in the face.

Video of the attack shows the man, identified by as Melvin Townsend III, antagonizing Tyson. An attorney for Townsend, however, insists he became ‘overly excited’ after seeing the boxing champion aboard his flight.

‘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,’ attorney Matt Morgan from Morgan & Morgan told TMZ.

Mike Tyson was seen in Miami Beach, leaving Eden Rock Hotel, on Friday, after seeming to lose his cool earlier this week on a JetBlue plane, repeatedly punching another passenger mid-flight (Picture: Splash News)

Townsend, a 36-year-old from Punta Gorda, Florida, has a lengthy rap sheet.

He served 20 and 15 month sentences in prison for a variety of crimes, including possession of Oxycodone, burglary, grand theft, fraud and trafficking stolen property, according to the DailyMail.

In 2018, he stole a trailer by trespassing and attacking the RV to his pickup truck, according to TMZ.

He was last released from a Florida prison in July 2020 after serving 15 months of a 25-month sentence for that incident and for using a fake ID. His previous sentences were in 2009 and 2010.

While Townsend has a lawyer he has not filed a lawsuit against Tyson, whose punches left him bloodied. He declined to press charges and both he and Tyson were free to leave following the tussle.

Representatives for Tyson previously claimed Townsend threw a water bottle at the boxer to provoke him. Townsend, through his attorney, denied the claim. Footage of the incident does not appear to show Townsend throwing a water bottle at Tyson.

‘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,’ Morgan said.

It’s unclear if Townsend will pursue any legal action against Tyson.

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