I’VE covered grand finals with over 5000 people, played touch football against the Parramatta Eels and met a stack of sporting big wigs, but few events compare to last week’s Australian super- welterweight title fight in Orange.
Absorbing, thrilling, brutal, intense ... I can’t find enough superlatives to give the night justice.
I spent the majority of the bout, won via a split decision by Orange boxer Sam Ah-See, as close to the edge of the ring as I could physically get, in awe of the hometown hero and his opponent, the enigmatic Shannon “Shaggy” King.
I watched on as both fighters went toe to toe.
Ah-See’s speed was prominent early, while Shaggy’s power rose to the fore late in the 10-round bout.
You could nearly feel the impact on most of the blows.
There was the controversial eight count thrown Shaggy’s way after a little bit of banter with the parochial crowd while the “clash of styles” Ah-See referred to after the contest didn’t stop him being deducted a point for an accidental headbutt.
I haven’t been to many bouts of this calibre, but Ah-See versus King, in my mind, seemed to have it all.
And in the eighth I thought it was heading to a very abrupt end.
Cut and looking to stand on very weary legs, I thought to myself, “Sam looks gone here.”
At that point late in the fight, Shaggy was dictating proceedings and the usually quick feet of Ah-See looked more like concrete-filled boots.
He’d gone from being the supreme boxer to the catcher, and catching punches with one’s head doesn’t result in a long boxing career.
With Shaggy’s corner willing the experienced muay thai fighter to end the bout with one more heavy swing, the Brisbane-based brawler naturally obliged with a huge right hand hook that promptly landed on Ah-See’s chin.
At that point Ah-See, looking more like a beaten favourite, gave Shaggy a glare I will never forget.
Puffy eyes, claret spilling from his nose, Ah-See simply shook his head and carried on.
It may seem a little trivial to some, but it’s a moment in sport now etched in my memory and from that point on I knew Ah-See would win his first professional Australian title belt.
Sensational crowd, entertaining undercard and a brutally enthralling main event, Matt Rose and his team at No Limit International Promotions need to both take a bow and endeavour to bring more fights like this one back to Orange.
I’m sure members of the 700-strong crowd at Orange Function Centre on Friday night will agree with me.