As Jake Paul’s fight with Tommy Fury edges ever closer, body language expert Judi James commented on Paul’s pre-fight press conferences, and if his behavior is giving anything away.
1: New kid on the block
To many, Jake Paul is a one in a long line of YouTubers, but he’s quickly gone from sitting in front of a camera to one of the biggest draws in the boxing ring.
Since his debut bout, an amateur contest against British YouTuber Deji Olatunji, Paul has turned professional and is unbeaten in his first four fights.
His biggest challenge yet will undoubtedly come in the form of his next opponent, Tommy Fury, the younger half-brother of two-time world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury. Both Paul and [Tommy] Fury have been vocal on social media, which was the catalyst for this fight in the first place. Time2play has worked with body language expert Judi James to analyze Paul as he continues to forge his boxing career. James said:
“Jake Paul is to boxing what Trump was to politics: the non-pro outsider whose very different approach turns out to be every bit as intimidating to his opponents as he constantly threatens to defy the odds and turn the world of boxing on its head. His first eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation with Tommy Fury turned into a huge body language mow-down for Fury, who was swept away with his three or so bodyguards by Jake Paul’s tsunami of an entourage and hangers-on. Fury bobbed about trying to get some trash talk and stare-offs going between himself and Jake but in the end, he appeared to be grinning in what looked like embarrassment as the set-up failed to catch fire, leaving him looking rather like a fan hanging around for an autograph.”
2: Fury’s absence changes conference dynamic
The pair have not pulled any punches on social media, with both sharing videos mocking one another’s accents, and Paul suggesting that Tommy is hiding behind his older brother, Tyson.
With a similar level of tension and aggression expected at every pre-fight press conference, many were surprised at the different atmosphere in the latest one, as James explained:
“With Fury missing the recent press conference it was all about Jake Paul flying solo and, mysteriously, it looked as though he had delegated all the traditional alpha machismo-soaked posturing to both a hyperactive wingman and a massive robot he’d brought with him.
“These conferences usually involve some posturing and chest-puffing rituals to intimidate, even from across the Atlantic. The idea is to create nagging doubt in the back of your opponent’s mind by sounding confident about a win, as well as some lively trash talk aimed at making them angry, but Jake avoided both physical intimidation techniques and any verbal ones, too. It was his sidekick sitting performing the widest leg splay and the scariest neck-rolls here, while Jake sat back in his chair talking more like an intelligent businessman than someone keen to knock Fury off his feet. He arrived using modest and even tentative-looking body language, with a shy-looking hug for the host and with some auto-contact hand rituals as he touched his clothing suggesting nerves or anxiety. His eyes were hidden by shades throughout and his delivery and image suggested he was more up for a fashion and styling face-off than a physical one.”
3: A change of tactic or sheer self-assurance
James continued: “He spoke confidently but realistically, being more than happy to self-critique and avoiding the kind of precision round predictions that boxers like Ali used to revel in as a method of intimidation. Jake was happy to refer to round 5 or 6, 7 or ‘maybe even 8’ as a possible end to Fury’s fight and his repetitive and rather modest gestures failed to add any real emphasis to his claims.”
“But there is an air of intimidation about Jake Paul and it’s perhaps because his body language rituals are not all about posturing and splaying. He looks and sounds smart. The press clearly love his eloquence. And that in itself could create cognitive confusion in his opponents in the same way that Trump did on his way to the White House.”
Some may see this as Paul’s entourage doing the intimidation for him, but perhaps there is more to it. Paul’s behavior amid the company of his crew suggests an air of calmness — a calculated man with a focus on the task at hand. This apparent maturity could be another string to Paul’s bow, but it’ll take more than coolness to prevail in this bout between two cross-Atlantic rivals. With reputations on the line, the time for talking is almost over.
Jake Paul by the numbers
- Age: 24
- Nationality: USA
- Height: 6’1″
- Reach: 76″
Pro boxing record (4-0)
|January 30, 2020||Ali Eson Gib||Meridian at Island Gardens, Miami||Win by TKO|
|November 28, 2020||Nate Robinson||Staples Center, Los Angeles||Win by KO|
|April 17, 2021||Ben Askren||Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta||Win by TKO|
|August 29, 2021||Tyron Woodley||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland||Win by SD|
About Judi James:
Judi James is a leading expert in social behavior, body language, and relationships. She regularly appears in UK newspapers analyzing the unconscious signals of a wide range of celebrities, from the British Royal Family to the Kardashians, Adele to Melania Trump. She has authored multiple books on body language, including Poker Face – Mastering Body Language to Bluff, Read Tells, and Win.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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