Sam Ah-See’s Australian National Boxing Federation super-welterweight title fight last Friday night was not the first national title held in Orange.
Ah-See’s bout, which he won via a split points decision, was the first stand alone Australian title fight Orange had hosted but it was the second overall - on December 22, 1976, Australian boxing legend Billy Moeller defended both his Australian super-featherweight title against Barry Michael at the Orange Amoco Centre, now the Orange Function Centre. The bout doubled as Moeller’s Commonwealth super-featherweight defence.
Despite several uncanny similarities between the two, Moeller said he hasn’t he heard of Ah-See. Moeller did hazard a guess as to “what he’s made of” when he found out last Friday’s fight was hosted in the 22-year-old’s home town.
“I don’t really follow boxing much anymore,” Moeller said.
“He’s obviously got a good head on his shoulders hosting the fight in Orange. I think it’s one of the best sporting towns in the country.”
The similarities between the two have drawn inevitable comparisons - both southpaw out-fighters, both fleet-footed and heavy-handed on their favoured left side and now, both national champions courtesy of a bout in Orange.
Like Moeller before him Ah-See bases his technique around good defence, speed and consistently “out boxing” his opponents. Incredibly, Moeller won his first national title fight when he was 22, as did Ah-See last Friday night - both won via a split points decision.
Moeller welcomed the comparison, and acknowledged the eerie similarities.
“He [Ah-See] would’ve fought like Vic Patrick as well then, who I got compared to him when I was younger,” Moeller explained.
A Sydney native, Moeller spent time training and fighting in Orange from 1976 through to 1988.
Prior to his move to the country, Moeller enjoyed a decorated career, defending his national and Commonwealth titles twice each.
He also defeated Lionel Rose, routinely recognised as one of Australia’s greatest boxers.
However, Moeller is most widely recognised for his long-term battle with Papua New Guinean (PNG) Johnny Aba, whom he fought three times for zero victories.
“He never actually beat me though,” Moeller said.
“We had a draw, and two decisions that I felt wrongly went his way.”
The first time the pair fought was in Boroko, in PNG in 1977, for the Commonwealth super feather-weight title. Aba won the 15-round fight in a points decision, and Moeller said he was “robbed” by local judges.
“One judge scored it to me by a point, another scored it to Johnny by a point,” Moeller explained.
“The third judge somehow scored it to Johnny by five points, which is ridiculous.”
In 1978 Moeller retuned to PNG in an attempt to reclaim the title, this time in Rabaul.
“He headbutted me, and cut me above the eye,” Moeller explained.
“It was accidental apparently, but I was never cut like that before. The entire ring was covered in blood, and the fight got stopped in the second round.”
Aba was awarded the win via technical knockout, a result Moeller disputes to this day.
“There was just under two rounds fought,” he said.
“My understanding was if a majority [eight rounds of 15] wasn’t reached, the bout was a draw after a stoppage.”
In the third bout, Moeller hosted Aba in Orange in 1981. The fight was ruled a draw.
“I thought I did enough to win, but I’d retired by then,” Moeller said.
“I wasn’t as fit as I should have been. If I trained like I had for my other fights I would’ve knocked Aba out.”