Anthony Joshua was in a state of ‘aggressive arousal’ before delivering a bizarre post-fight rant after losing his heavyweight clash against Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, according to a body language expert.
British star Joshua lost the third fight of his professional career in Jeddah – and his second in succession against the Ukrainian – which put him in a state of ‘cognitive confusion’.
That is believed to have affected his mental state after the bout, leading to his foul-mouthed rant, throwing the belts out of the ring, which has divided the boxing fraternity.
Fans mocked his ‘full on Kanye West moment’ after hijacking the microphone, questioning his statement about ‘not nice things’ going on in Ukraine following the Russian invasion there.
But retired boxer Tony Bellew defended the outburst, insisting Joshua is ‘respectful, honest and decent to everyone’, insisting ’emotion and tiredness’ caused the meltdown.
Below, Sportsmail’s body language expert Judi James gives her opinion on what Joshua’s demeanour revealed about his erratic post-fight monologue.
Anthony Joshua (right) was defeated by Oleksandr Usyk in their rematch on Saturday night
British heavyweight star Joshua appeared dejected after the judges’ decision was announced
Judi James: Backstage, walking away after the fight, we can see a glimpse of much angrier body language signals emerge as someone in the crowd shouts out to ‘keep it professional’.
Walking out, Joshua is still strutting and presenting more like a winner at that point but the criticism brings his brows down in a scowl and his entire facial expression changes as he seems to seek the guy out in a state of what looks like aggressive arousal.
We can see his entourage stepping in this time to spirit him away and this could be the point where the reality of what happened is beginning to sink in, after the earlier performance of what looked like cognitive confusion after a brutal fight.
This post-match performance from Anthony would have made total sense – but only if he had won.
It was as though the end of the match triggered the winner’s speech he’d been planning in his head, where he spoke of overcoming his humble, challenging background to stick it to critics who had been saying he wasn’t as good as legendary former boxers Jack Dempsey or Mike Tyson.
The former champion launched into a bizarre monologue after returning to the ring post-fight
Winning would have shown him having the last laugh before praising his opponent in a moment of victor’s generosity, and perhaps the fact he had lost the fight was taking longer to process than the speech was to deliver.
The way he upstaged the real victor Usyk and left him standing looking confused as he grabbed the mic and delivered his long speech suggested exactly that. Winners grab the mic after boxing matches.
Boxers like Muhammad Ali would famously never shut up after a win, but dominating the spotlight after a defeat before delivering what sounded like the start of a Ted Talk on the art of success was never going to be an Ali moment.
Was it fuelled by out of control emotions and adrenalin surges? After throwing down his belts Joshua did initially look and even sound (in his delivery rather than his words) calm enough and eloquent enough to suggest his speech might have been going to end well.
There is a moment when we can see or hear a flash of possible anger when he yells ‘I’m talking!’ as he seems to think someone’s trying to interrupt but when he sees it is Usyk asking for his flag back from around his shoulders he is immediately apologetic, repeating the word ‘sorry’ as he walks to the ropes with his eyes looking downward.
Joshua’s comments following the fight came as he was in a state of ‘cognitive confusion’
Joshua’s speech is clear and it sounds relatively considered. He begins with ‘Look…’ which is a sign of reasonable thinking rather than anger or uncontrolled emotions.
He paces back and forth a bit, again like a motivational speaker as he says ‘if you knew my story…’ and he keeps pulling back to praise his opponent rather than perform an outburst of resentment or active distress.
During his press conference the enormity of the fact he’d lost the match seems to be releasing some different emotions. The showboating, spotlight-seeking version of Joshua has deflated and in its place is a man overcome by tears of regret.
Sports people like boxers often employ visualisation techniques when they’re training, where they see the win and rehearse it in their minds to motivate themselves and raise their feelings of confidence and success.
I wonder if Joshua had seen his winner’s speech so many times in his mind that he was unable to switch it off in the heat of the moment.
Looking to recapture his heavyweight gold, AJ produced a much-improved performance compared to the one seen in Tottenham back in September, but it ultimately wouldn’t be enough to dethrone the Ukrainian, who masterfully utilised feints and lateral movement to frustrate Joshua throughout the twelve rounds.
Despite one judge viewing the bout in his favour, Joshua would come up short once again in his attempt to defeat the former cruiserweight champion and stormed out of the ring after the decision was read.
Though the fight will be remembered as a showcase of both the tenacity, and the technicality of both fighters, the action in the ring was ultimately overshadowed by the bizarre post-fight speech of the former champion.