Analyzing the body language of Anthony Joshua VS Andy Ruiz
No, I’m not a psychologist, nor am I an expert in body language, however, what I am is an avid boxing fan from a very early age and someone who has a keen interest in how the mental game effects performance.
In this blog I will be analyzing the body language of both Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua before their rematch later on tonight with my own knowledge and from what the experts have said.
It started as usual, Joshua being his humble self. Even though he wasn’t supposed to be fighting Ruiz, his bout was supposed to be against Jarrell Miller who had been found taking performance enhancing drugs. Throughout the press conference’s, both fighters were very respectful of each other, applauding the hard work it had took each of them to get to this point. Anthony Joshua, being the generous man he is, even handed Ruiz the belts before the fight after seeing him eyeballing what he would later have possession of. Post fight, in his documentary, he seemed to regret his decision saying this “in hindsight. I would probably tell my fighter, as a psychological thing: Don’t give them away.” Overall both fighters was unaware of what was about to go down at Madison Square Garden.
There has been much speculation leading up to the moments right before the bought, revolving around Anthony Joshua’s health. Many boxers who are in competition with AJ proposed that he had been knocked out, during his camp in preparation for his fight, however post fight AJ addressed this by saying “Everyone wants to be famous, rather than a good fighter.
Joshua was also late for his ring walk and many claimed that it was due to him having a panic attack in the changing rooms. When Joshua appeared, panic attack or not, trainers and fighters from across the world were very outspoken in saying he looked nervous, especially as he was getting his neck rubbed by one of his trainers. Dave Coldwell, the infamous trainer of many title fighters such as Tony Bellew had this to say “I just thought he looked nervous“ and “he’s only human, he has emotions” in an interview with sky sports. All of these claims have been shut down by Anthony although he has said that he was probably focusing on the upcoming fights that were bound to happen like the one against Deontay Wilder, instead of what was at hand.
We all know what happened on the first of June earlier this year, when Ruiz shocked the world in his victory against the brit, becoming the world’s first Mexican heavyweight champion. After a huge blow to the back of AJ’s temporal lobe which he never seemed to recover from, this eventually resulted in the referee calling for a TKO. a few people have said that Anthony quit or purposefully didn’t comply with the referees instructions which Anthony has responded to saying this “I would rather of gone out on my back, than the referee calling it off” this statement was brought up more recently which we will talk about further down.
Before the rematch
I noticed that there was a change in Anthony Joshua. Yes, he was still the big friendly giant that we are used to but, he seems to be more aggressive, it’s like he’s got a bigger fire in his belly. One of the biggest statements he made that caught my eye was in an interview with sky sports “I’m going to whoop him, show how great I am because they think that he’s so great, so when I beat him, I want everyone to bow to my feet and tell me how great I am.” I was expecting him to laugh it off after he said this, but he was serious. I think he’s sick of being the “nice guy” all the time.
You might be thinking that I haven’t really gone over their body language much, it’s been more about what they said but don’t worry, from this point it will be focused more on what we can read from how they carry themselves. Now remember from our “how to spot a liar” blog, when looking at someone’s behavior, it is better to look for clusters of actions as this is more convincing.
The gloves are off
After a long wait we finally got to see the fighters face to face, no glitz and glam just each other, Johnny Nelson, two backwards facing chairs and one table separating the both of them. Straight away it was noticed that Joshua had closed body language as he had his arms crossed protecting his vital organs which is seen as him being threatened by Andy who was showing very confident posture, however, I’ve looked back over the other episodes and realized that this is a common position for him so take of it what you will.
Nelson than asks Joshua “you’ve been in that chair many of times (looking at where his opponent was sat) But never after defeat” interestingly AJ did something which is known as eye blocking which is where you squint or close your eyes which is often associated with discomfort or not liking what you are hearing or seeing. AJ does this by blinking three times, he also takes awhile to respond and doesn’t really answer the question.
Back to “the destroyer” Ruiz, he’s been subjected to a lot of questions after his win against AJ asking whether he would lose his hunger and motivation as he seemed to go on a very expensive shopping spree, buying a rolls Royce, mansion, personalized jewelry and much more. AR addressed this very confidently and assertive by saying “I’m a family man which helps keep me humble”, “the materialistic stuff is what i always wanted” and “I’m not satisfied, there’s still more proven, there’s still more for me to keep following my dreams, yanoe I don’t want to be a 15 minute fame.” He is really passionate about continuing his success.
When Johnny Nelson asks whether Anthony is finding it tough being around Ruiz and he says no but a few seconds later Andy Ruiz wipes his nose, maybe indicating that he doesn’t believe AJ.
When Joshua was explaining how he was preparing for the first fight and what he is doing their was a lot of hand gestures, at one point he pointed out to the left and then to right, this could be interpreted as talking about the past and the future, this is what happened but it’s not going to be the same result this time.
After, Johnny Nelson had to ask the big question… did Anthony Joshua quit, whilst doing this he was covering his mouth showing that he was a bit fearful even saying it was an uncomfortable question. While this was simmering Anthony’s eyes was locked onto Johnny instead of awaiting the answer from Andy, this may have been him trying to avoid the controversy with Ruiz however, I believe that it could be that he was frustrated with Nelson due to the question already being asked and AJ feeling it didn’t need to be reiterated. Although both fighters seemed to be quite calm during these moments, if you look closely, Ruiz’s leg begins to shake when he is answering the question, this is often seen when someone has nervous energy and can’t keep still.
Again, when ruiz is asked whether he’s going to end Joshua’s career AJ doesn’t make eye contact however, he does begin to clench his fists and gently thump the table, this may be because he was starting to get agitated.
Towards the end of the episode AJ gets asked “What’s going to happen December 7th“ he let’s out huge breath of air which is known as a stress reliever and then he sways left and right which some experts have said it’s a sign that in the upcoming fight he will be ducking and weaving more however I believe that he was repeating the “past and future” signals.
Final press conference
To start, AJ’s coach - Robert McCracken says “it’s a totally different mood going into this fight than it was back in New York“ which to me suggests that Joshua wasn’t in the right frame of mind during the first fight. At the point of rob saying this Anthony takes a big breath in and puffs out his chest, priming his body for action as if he is ready to fight now.
When Many Robles (Ruiz’s trainer) was stating that they have had a great camp and the perfect sparring partners, you can notice that Andy licks the inside of his mouth which is known to be a self soothing behavior. He also inquisitively looks towards Anthony Joshua as if he is weighing him up wondering if he has prepared well enough to handle what his opponent is going to bring.
Just after, AR’s trainer carries on suggesting that everything has gone perfect and Ruiz is ready to fight, however I’m not the most convinced because firstly Andy compresses his lips which is common when someone is trying to hold something back and secondly he scratches his face which makes me think something isn’t quite true.
Now the cameras turn to Anthony Joshua, and he goes on to say he’s “going back to 16” which is referring to his challenger mindset which he used to defeat Charles Martin in only his 16th fight, “hungry, determined and focused on the goal”. When you give something a title like he has done here, you give it power, it becomes an affirmation you can visualize which will be useful before the fight.
When Eddie Hearn says about AJ winning the belts back and making history you can see and hear Anthony take a sharp breath in which is quite the opposite of the sigh he let out in the gloves are off interview. This is a sign that he is preparing his body for battle.
As the two fighters come together for the face off, AJ puffs his chest out and does some ventral fronting which is where you turn your whole body (specifically the belly) towards someone, this shows that he is not only confident but also comfortable in the presence of Ruiz. He also begins to swing his arms back and forth as if he is ready for the fight now.
As they are eye to eye Andy Ruiz gets heckled by a fan saying “two time” suggesting that AJ is going to take back the titles but, instantly he replies with “and still” implying that he will not lose, he did this whiteout breaking eye contact with AJ.
Overall, we can not rely on this information to predict the result of the fight accurately, however we can use it as a reference. I believe that both fighters have great respect for each other at the same time as truly believing in their own ability. Although the evidence would probably lean towards a Ruiz victory, I feel like Anthony Joshua is going to bring home the titles maybe because I am a huge fan of not just the boxer but, the person he is!