CARDIGAN ABC light-heavyweight Josh Mellor has had his hopes of retaining his Welsh title wrecked by a broken left hand.

The hard-hitting 24-year-old was seeking to retain the 86 kg title he won last year when he took on Llandudno’s experienced Gary Richards in the quarter-finals at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens.

Although the Cardigan man won on a split decision, he suffered the injury midway through the final round and was subsequently forced to withdraw from Sunday’s semi-final.

An X-ray revealed a break of the metacarpal which will put Mellor out of action for at least 12 weeks.

It also brings a halt to his meteoric rise in the sport – 12 months ago Mellor sensationally won the national 86kg crown only a year after taking up boxing.

Most disappointingly it will cost him a probable place in the prestigious Three Nations tournament where top boxers from Wales, England and Scotland compete against one another annually.

“We’re all devastated,” Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft told the Tivyside. “Josh was almost guaranteed a shot at the Three Nations this year – now it’s all just gone out the window.

“He’s in plaster for the next four to six weeks and cannot box for 12 weeks – we’re absolutely gutted.”

The Cardigan team had viewed Richards as potentially Mellor’s most dangerous opponent going into the last eight.

In an action-packed bout which saw the north Walian constantly taking the fight to Mellor, the reigning champion was forced to keep his guard up at all times.

Mellor nevertheless hurt his opponent with a peach of a right hand near the end of the first, only for the bell to sound before he was able to capitalise.

Richards remained dangerous throughout, despite being caught by a big left hook in the final round, which caused Mellor’s untimely injury.

Cardigan’s woes did not end there. Veteran Billy Myers appeared to be winning his bout against Billy Jones (Llandudno ABC) comfortably when he was stopped by a crippling body shot and teenager Ifan Evans had to withdraw from his 75kg junior bout after suffering a bad nosebleed.