A body language expert has assessed that Anthony Joshua showed discomfort during his lengthy face-off with Oleksandr Usyk on Tuesday.
The duo met at a press conference in Jeddah on Tuesday, marking the first time they had seen each other since Usyk took the unified WBA, WBO and IBF belts from Joshua last September. They remained cordial and were at times friendly during a tame media day to launch their highly-anticipated world heavyweight title rematch.
Joshua and Usyk will let their fists do the talking in the ring on August 20 at the Jeddah Super Dome, but first have to promote the fight with media events in Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. They will both receive massive purses for the bout, which Saudi Arabian officials have paid hundreds of millions to stage in their country.
Their first press conference took place in Jeddah, on the coast of the Red Sea, where body language expert ‘Believing’ Bruce Durham argues that Joshua showed discomfort. The pair steered clear of any trash talk or aggressive tone during their speeches, but shared an awkwardly-long look during their face-off, which was ultimately broken after Joshua indicated the pair should face forward for further photos.
“Anthony felt uncomfortable enough that he had to move, he had to do something to break that stare,” Durham, a Performance Psychology Coach, told the Fight Disciples podcast, despite Usyk being the first to turn around. “It’s not about being scared.
“Now, he may have got bored, he may have got nervous and thought ‘you know what? I could be anywhere else but here, let’s actually just crack on and get this done’. But what we’re really talking about is emotional control.
“That’s what we’re not seeing AJ presenting in this particular moment. Notice Usyk is staring, Usyk is still. AJ’s limbic system, the hormonal reaction that was going on made him feel uncomfortable enough that Usyk stayed still and AJ had to point.”
Durham believes that this was indicative of Joshua lacking the requisite emotional control for such an occurrence. “He needed to break that eye contact for whatever reason,” the expert added on the Brit. “Which we do know is a lack of emotional control. Usyk was happy to stand there still, while AJ wasn’t.
Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua faced off in Jeddah on Tuesday ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)
“AJ’s got a bit of a habit of swinging his arms which is adrenaline coming into the system. That’s why he moves his arms, he’s getting ready for something.
“There’s a thought that made him uncomfortable enough that he had to move and then what we see moving further on is Usyk acknowledges AJ, he also turns away but doesn’t break eye contact.
“This is the key, eye contact is one of the most powerful forms of communication. You’re offering intent about what you’re going to do – you can stare at them and let them know that you’re not happy.
“Although Usyk positions his body away, he’s still willing, capable and committed to keeping that eye contact with AJ. He’s saying ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ which we do by looking at each other. This face-off has gone a little bit funny, there’s something else that’s going on between the two of them, some type of internal competition.”