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PLAINTIFF SAYS BARKLEY THREW FIRST PUNCH IN FIGHT

Charles Barkley threw the first punch in a nightclub fight, said the man who is suing him for more than $500,000.

"Right after he punched me, in self-defense I took a swing back at him," said Jeb Tyler, 24, of Spencerport.

Tyler, a business equipment salesman, is suing the Houston Rockets forward over a fight at a Cleveland nightclub. He contends he was punched while acting as a peacemaker between a friend, David DiGiacco, 27, of Rochester, and Barkley.

Tyler said on the second day of the trial that Barkley cursed at him and DiGiacco and told them to get out of the bar.

"I said, 'Why should we have to leave? Why don't you leave?' That's when he punched me in the head," said Tyler, who admitted having consumed six or seven beers in five hours.

In testimony earlier Tuesday, DiGiacco said the fight started after he began talking to a woman sitting next to Barkley and Reggie Miller. The woman told DiGiacco she was with Miller, a guard with the Indiana Pacers.

DiGiacco said he asked the woman whether she and Miller were just friends or whether she was "sleeping with him."

"Obviously, now I realize it probably wasn't something I should have said," DiGiacco testified.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Tyler said he didn't threaten the 6-6, 250-pound NBA star in any way before Barkley punched him in the face. Barkley kept coming after him, and that's when Tyler said he threw a punch at Barkley.

"The bouncers then got hold of me, but no one was controlling him," Tyler said. "He kept punching me on top of my head."

Barkley told police he was the one who was attacked.

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