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Back from the Brink of Defeat: Archie Moore v. Yvon Durelle

Ted "The Bull" Sares is back at Bad Left Hook today with a memory of a fight from 1958 that he says you must see to truly believe.

* * * * * * * *

I'm like the drunk in the bar who wants just one more for the road.
-- Archie Moore

The first time he [Durelle] put me down, I hit my head first, then my feet. I was laying there, and I thought, "Wow, this guy can hit."

How would you like to watch an entire fight with the ebb and flow of the last round of Castillo-Corrales? How would you like to watch one of the greatest fights of all time?

The 1958 classic between the great Archie "Old Mongoose" Moore and 4-to-1 underdog Yvon "The Fighting Fisherman" Durelle made Durelle a Canadian legend and earned him cult status for his performance in one of the most memorable fights of all time. The fight, held in Montreal, was one of the first to be broadcast coast-to-coast on American television. At stake was Moore's World Light Heavyweight Title.

In a momentum-shifting, back-and-forth brawl that all hardcore boxing fans must see to believe, the rugged and muscular French-Canadian decked the "Mongoose" an incredible three times in a shocking first round with crunching rights (though the second knockdown was part punch and part shove). Durelle appeared to be on his way to a certain stoppage victory. But he missed an opportunity when, after the first knockdown, he stood over the groggy Archie watching for several seconds before returning to his corner. As a result, the referee had to wait before beginning the count. The badly hurt Moore just made it to his feet at the count of nine and somehow managed to weather the subsequent storm and survive the round, but he had been beaten from pillar to post.

Incredibly, the crafty Moore began to work his way back ever-so-slowly, particularly in the 4th. For some reason (maybe due to bad advice from his corner) Durelle did not pursue his advantage and became more cautious. But then the Canadian swarmed all over the "Mongoose" in the 5th round and decked him again with a short vicious right. Still, Archie would not fold. The blows being thrown were of the pier six varieties. Each knockdown shot was a "haymaker," each was malevolent, but Archie always got back up. Somehow, he weathered the onslaught.

Durelle became visibly discouraged by Archie's resolve. More importantly, he was tiring...his arms grown weary from clubbing Moore like he was beating a rug. Durelle had made a fatal mistake by letting the Mongoose off the hook. Now it was Archie Moore who slowly took control and began to put some hurt on the tough challenger.

The cagey Moore knew every trick in the book and used every one of them to come back from the brink. Durelle finally went down in the seventh and then again in the tenth round when he was saved by he bell. Mixing up his attack with lefts and rights, Archie then settled matters once and for all in the eleventh when he finished the spent Canadian with two withering knockdowns -the second and last triggered by a savage right as the crowd watched in disbelief. In all, eight knockdowns occurred in the fight. This classic gave new meaning to the words "courage" and "comeback," and thankfully I remember it. I was 20 at the time.

Archie "The Old Mongoose" Moore ended his career with a slate of 183 - 24 - 10 with an astounding 131 KO's. He fought for an incredible 27 years and knocked out more opponents than anyone else in the history of boxing. However, final stats vary from source to source. He became the light heavyweight champion at the age of 39 and is the only man to have fought both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali. And get this: he fought 61 times against Top Ten fighters and 15 times against future Hall of Famers. In 1990, he became a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, being one of the original members of the Hall. Over the years, he received awards and dedications too numerous to cite here.

Durrell's record ended at 90 wins, 51 by knockout, against 24 losses and two draws. Between 1971 and 1989 he would be inducted in both the New Brunswick and Canadian Sports Halls of fame, as well as being the subject of a book, The Fighting Fisherman, by Raymond Fraser in 1981.

Yvonne Durelle died at age 77 of a stroke on Christmas day in a hospital in Moncton. He also suffered from Parkinson's disease. Archie Moore died of heart failure in 1998, four days shy of his 85th birthday, with his eight children by his side.

Thanks for the great memories. May you both Rest in Peace.

Take a tour of the author's site at and view the many new photos.

Check out the fight after the jump!

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