THERE was crushing disappointment for Andrew Selby in his quest to secure a shot at WBC flyweight champion Charlie Edwards when he was knocked out in five rounds by Julio Cesar Martinez in Mexico.

The gifted Welshman’s task was a daunting one long before it began and so the final eliminator proved when a body shot concluded the bout, dropping the Barry man for the full count.

Now 30 years old and his glittering amateur career long behind him, Selby’s professional journey – despite a 2017 win over Cristofer Rosales, who Edwards defeated to win the world belt – had struggled for momentum; this contest was just his second since 2017.

C1F23E08-D324-4B9E-BA73-54213A72CE2CBEFORE THE STORM: Andrew Selby [centre], with manager Chris Sanigar [left] and trainer Tony Borg days before the bout

However, Selby (112lbs) began this showdown at the Metepec Fairground well enough, as he marshalled his foe behind the jab. But by the second, Martinez was working his way inside. The Mexican bustled into the visitor in the third and a head clash, for which 24-year-old Martinez lost a point, ripped Selby’s left eyebrow open and blood poured into his face. A ringside doctor allowed to bout to continue.

Martinez (111 1/2lbs) continued to storm forward in the fourth session. Known as a potent body puncher, he targeted Selby’s midsection, lashing hooks to the ribs and stomach of his rival. The visitor appeared to have been stung by a body blow at the end of the round. Even so, Selby was very much in the fight and was ahead on the cards.

The finish came in the next. Martinez hurled a vicious left hook towards Selby’s liver. The blow landed with a thud and sent him to his knees. Visibly hurting, the Welshman listened to Hector Afu’s count, mustering the strength to rise as it reached ‘10’. In a different part of the world, the fight might have continued. But in Mexico, his brave mission was over.

Martinez, 14-1 (11), is now in position to challenge Edwards, who cruised to a lopsided unanimous decision over Spain’s Angel Moreno at the Copper Box Arena in London just hours before.

Selby dropped to 11-1 (6).