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Famous Ring Wars: Archie Moore Vs. Yvon Durelle

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On December 10, 1958 a fight took place at the Forum in Montreal, Canada between Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore and Challenger Yvon Durelle that will never be forgotten by anyone who saw it. It easily stacks up as being as good a fight as this writer has ever seen. Archie Moore, the “Old Mongoose” (AKA – “Old Man Dynamite”) was knocked out in the 9th round of a brutal fight with Rocky Marciano in 1955 and again by Floyd Patterson in November 1956. Archie would later describe the fight with Floyd Patterson, in which he was totally ineffective, as the low point of his career.

Archie was well along in years by that time and could not match Patterson’s blazing speed. Archie won the Light Heavyweight Title in 1952 with a unanimous 15 round decision over Joey Maxim at the age of 39 years old. He had already been the Light Heavyweight Champion for six years before his fight with Durelle. This fight was a crossroads fight for Moore, who even though he had put a string of victories together after his disappointing showing with Patterson, could not afford another loss.

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Durelle was a muscular, rough and tumble fighter, who went into the ring that night with every intention of taking the title to Canada. His punches were of the “pier six brawl” variety. Durelle obviously had nowhere near the experience of the wily “Old Mongoose”. The “Fighting Fisherman” as Durelle was called, got in shape by doing what he did to make a living, he hauled lobster traps. A great way to get in shape, but not the kind of shape required to challenge for the Light Heavyweight Championship of the world. Moore was a 4 to 1 favorite going into the fight against the twenty nine year old Durelle, based on his vastly superior ring experience and the quality of the opposition that he faced. During Arichie Moore’s career he fought sixty one opponents who were ranked in the top ten.

Durelle won the Canadian Light Heavyweight title in 1953 and brought an 80-20-1 record into the ring with him. He went through a rough time in his career during the mid 1950’s, but in the two and a half years prior to his championship bid with Moore, he was 22-2-1 and was very popular with the Canadian fans.

In the opening round Durelle stunned boxing fans by knocking Moore down three times. Archie Moore vs Ynon Durelle. In a move reminiscent of Jack Dempsey’s second battle with Gene Tunney, Durelle wasted precious seconds before he went to a neutral corner. The referee did not start the count until Durelle had moved to a neutral corner. This move quite possibly cost Durelle the fight. Moore struggled to his feet at the count of nine after the first knockdown. Durelle knocked down Moore two more times in the first round, but the cagey “Old Mongoose” survived the round. Durelle swarmed all over Moore for the next four rounds and knocked him down again in the fifth round.

In a fight where defeat seemed all but certain, incredibly Moore started to wear the younger, stronger Durelle down. As Archie got stronger, you could see Durelle become discouraged. He had hit Moore with everything in his arsenal and now Archie was launching his own counter attack. In the seventh round Moore knocked Durelle down and then again in the tenth round. Moore would end things in the eleventh round with another knockdown and then a KO.

Archie Moore demonstrated his greatness in this fight in the twilight of his career. He absolutely refused to be beaten. Famed referee and boxing historian Mills Lane would comment on this fight many years later by saying: “I don’t think you’ll ever see a fight like Durelle – Moore again. That fight transcends what great fights are.”

Even in defeat Yvon Durelle became a legend in his homeland after the fight with Moore.

Moore wound up his career with 131 KO’s, the most in boxing history. Ring Magazine named him the 4th greatest puncher of all time. It is fortunate that this great fight is on film for present and future generations of boxing fans to marvel at.

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