Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor battery after laying into a paparazzi photographer at LAX last night. He was released at about 11:30 pmET.
We're told Tyson was at a ticket counter at the United Airlines terminal when the incident occurred. The photographer got punched in the face, hit the ground, got up and began walking, leaving a trail of blood. An LAPD spokesperson said the photographer suffered a minor laceration to the forehead.
Someone at the scene tells TMZ ... the photographer got very close to Tyson before the boxer struck him. Our says there's blood on the ground and Mike was taken away in a squad car. We're told an ambulance was dispatched at 4:39 PM to LAX and the paparazzo was transported to a local hospital.
Cops say Tyson and the photographer performed citizen's arrests on each other -- both are expected to be booked for misdemeanor battery. Cops also said witnesses backed both stories ... so that could get interesting.
Tyson was traveling with his 10-month-old daughter, and a representative said immediately that Tyson acted in defense against an "overly aggressive" photographer in order to protect his daughter.
Andrew Blankstein of the Los Angeles Times had this:
Tyson, 43, told investigators that the photographer struck him in an apparent attempt to provoke him, according to a police source who asked not to be named because the matter involved an open investigation.
The photographer told investigators that Tyson punched him in the face and tried to take his camera, the source said.
You know what? I'm not exactly the world's biggest Mike Tyson fan, and I don't condone violence out in the open necessarily, but good. I'm far more willing to believe Mike Tyson was provoked than I am to not believe it at this point, especially given the punchee.