ANTHONY JOSHUA was left confused with his stoppage loss against Andy Ruiz Jr – as he thought the ref would put his gum shield back in his mouth.
AJ, 29, was decked four times before losing his unified titles to 25-1 outsider Ruiz on the Brit’s US debut in New York on June 1.
After the Snickers loving underdog had the champion of the floor for the fourth time, Joshua spat out his gum shield in a bid to buy time to recover.
However, as the Watford giant laid against the ropes ref Mike Griffin waved the contest off.
Joshua, though, expected the official to put the gum shield back in his mouth, but admitted Griffin was right to stop the fight.
He said on his YouTube channel: “I couldn’t even really remember where I was at the time but I just knew that I was in for a fight, I knew that I should be here [on the canvas] – so I just got to my feet and we went again.
“Down, breathing heavy, gum shield drops, found myself to my feet again.
“He ain’t knocked me out cold, but he’s knocked me down, so I find myself walking back to the corner.
He’s [the referee] counting, the ref holds my shorts, pulls me forward, and as he pulls me forward I step forward, then he pushes me back, and I thought ‘OK he’s pushed me back, so I think he’s going to put my gum shield in’.
Anthony Joshua on his stoppage loss
“The next thing I see he’s waved off the fight.
“The ref done his job, he saw that I could not continue so he waved off the fight and it’s his job to do that.”
Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn have wasted no time in activating a rematch for the end of the year.
The only thing left to confirm is whether the fight takes place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff or back at Madison Square Garden – where AJ lost his heavyweight belts.
But for Joshua, the goal is the same – to become two-time heavyweight world champion, and once again push to fight WBC king Deontay Wilder in an undisputed title clash.
He added: “I always say don’t let the failures get to your heart and don’t let success get to your head.
“I’ve always felt like the belts not representing me, I’m always a man who stands alone and that’s why I say, I make boxing.
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“Boxing doesn’t represent me, I’m a man before I held those belts. I was a respectful person before I held those belts and I will always be the same person when I retire.
“I don’t think you should give up when you meet a blip in life. I can get it right and that’s why I want to take this rematch and reactivated it immediately.
“I’m still keen to fight the best in the world, I’m still keen to prove myself, my ambition in boxing at the minute is to be two time heavyweight champion of the world.”