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OPINION: Was Mike Tyson's Plane Fight a Set-Up?


Because it sure looked like one...

Toglenn, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Heavyweight Boxing Champ turned Cannabis Entrepreneur, Mike Tyson is in hot water over an altercation with a drunk “fan” who seems to have taken things too far!

Because it’s 2022, the whole thing was captured in a video that has gone viral.

So, was Tyson ‘right’ to hit the man who was harassing him?

Here’s what no one is talking about.

While I have very little sympathy or tolerance for those who resort to violence (when they are not being physically attacked) the video reveals something important no articles or videos I’ve seen have mentioned.

Here’s the thing: This is not a video that was filmed to capture Mike Tyson being behaving violently after a fan took things too far. 

This is a video of one man, recording another man, purposely harassing Mike Tyson to his breaking point. 

Go ahead and correct me if you can find anything that suggests otherwise — I have tried to confirm this, but no sources indicate info in support of this theory or against it. 

However, consider these clues:

  • The man taping is specifically taking a video in order to capture the harassment. The video captures several interactions before anything violent happens.
  • The videographer does not seem to be a random spectator — he is actively engaging with the man harassing Tyson. This is not something that appears to have been “caught” as much as orchestrated.
  • The man harassing Tyson looks back to the camera several times as if he’s giving a performance — perhaps one that is intended as a viral TikTok?
  • The videographer checks in (on camera) with the harasser afterwards, calling him his boy (or maybe homeboy? It’s difficult to hear it) and zooming in on his face multiple times in a playful manner.
  • Once the physical altercation starts, the videographer keeps the camera mostly down, avoiding capturing most of the punches on camera. Why is that? Is it to hide the moment where Tyson is hit with a water bottle? Is it to make it appear that Tyson was more aggressive than he actually was? It’s strange that we are given such a clear shot right up until the fight — but the minute the fight starts, the videographer can’t hold the camera up.

If this wasn’t planned, these two dudes are in pretty close alignment and they should be best friends — but I’m guessing they already are. 

If it wasn’t planned, it should still be treated as two people conspiring to provoke a celebrity, because if you watch the video, that’s what actually happened.

This is two grown men purposely trying to make a celeb come undone — specifically, a celeb who has notably struggled with his temper, but has, in recent years, been incredibly contained. Tyson appears to be so mellow these days that he calmly shut down an incident with an armed gunman in Los Angeles just last month! 

Tyson has not been recently known for showing acts of aggression- he has been out pursuing his next career move in the cannabis industry- his now-infamous flight was actually taking him from one cannabis-industry event to another. 

But funny enough, you know who has been out in the world causing a lot of trouble? The man who started the altercation; Thirty-six-year-old Melvin Townsend, who has an extensive record including fraud, grand theft, burglary, and more. Townsend has been accused of having “habitual felony offender status.”

Now, am I saying Townsend should have been hit? Absolutely not. But when people are harassed to a certain point, it’s difficult harness or control their reactions.

Townsend has lawyered up, and I’m really curious about how that will go down. Given the video, I’m guessing it won’t go well.

Every news piece on this story has gone out of its way to talk about how drunk Townsend was, claiming that he was just “overly excited”. But while he probably had a few beers, he’s not slurring his words or having trouble standing up straight. It looks like he has just enough alcohol to give him the courage to do something really stupid and potentially, incredibly harmful.

Tyson’s legal team has stated that he only threw the punch after a water bottle had been thrown at him

Now, is it suspect that the footage of a water bottle being thrown does not seem to be available? Well…not really… There’s a gap in the video between Townsend harassing Tyson, and him throwing punches. 

Perhaps the rest of the footage will materialize soon, but frankly, anything could have happened in there.

Maybe we should ask the man who taped the event — the man who sure seems like he might be friends with Townsend —  I’m really expecting for that detail to surface. 

Frankly, I’d like to have seen Tyson handle this differently. I’d love for him to have grabbed the water bottle that was thrown at him and say NO… You know, like a grown-up who understands its not okay to act violently, and who has a grasp on the reality that this mildly-inebriated idiot is just trying to get a rise out of him?

I mean, how satisfying would it have been to see Tyson “react” by getting a flight attendant to come over and for everyone to watch Melvin Townsend to be sent to wherever they isolate problematic passengers? 

Is it too much to ask to see a celeb take the high road? Yeah, probably.

Meanwhile, though I don’t condone violence, part of me thinks if Tyson had not thrown punches when he did, Townsend would have just kept harassing him until things did get violent. 

Lucky for everyone, Tyson was only throwing baby punches and Townsend escaped with what looks like a small cut to his forehead. This could have easily ended in a head injury.

Early prediction? Townsend ends up with some sort of settlement. Because even though I want to say bullies don’t prosper, celebs are usually willing to put a little money into shutting down their violent mistakes…even if those mistakes were provoked.

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Writer, Performer, Activist. Founder of That's What She Didn't Say: Creating Healthy Conversations About Challenging Topics.

Los Angeles, CA

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