Fights of the Century:
Archie Moore vs. Yvon Durelle, Dec. 10, 1958
By: Monte Cox
Archie Moore versus Yvon Durelle is without question one of the very greatest fights of all time...and always will be!! While many of the other fights discussed in this series can be compared to some modern classics, this thriller is in a realm of its own. Modern Referee Mills Lane in an article for ESPN.Com said: "I don't think you'll ever see a fight like Durelle-Moore again...That fight transcended what great fights are."
In analyzing the three categories of determining the greatest fights of the century, a) best in action; b) historical significance; and c) quality of opposition. Moore-Durelle is tops in the first category.
The bout was Moore's 7th defense of his World Light-heavyweight Title. It took place in Canadian Durelle's backyard of the Montreal Forum. Moore's experience and punching power had him a big 4-1 favorite over the challenger. Moore was the aging champion, 42, but believed to have been 45. He had lost twice in attempts at the heavyweight title (Roy Jones let that be a lesson to you!), but was considered near unbeatable at 175 pounds. The 29 year old Durelle, not in awe, came out in the first round with inspiration.
Yvon went on the attack at the opening bell and caught Moore cold. He swarmed over the champion and a booming right hand deposited the stunned Moore on the canvas. Moore recalled Durelle's power in his autobiography: "The first time he put me down...I thought this guy can hit! They say Marciano was a house wrecker, and he was, but it took a volley to get the job done. This guy...one punch!" With Moore hurt Durelle went all out on the attack. Two more knockdowns of Moore in the very first round. One more big right hand punch and the legendary champion may have been finished right in the opening session!
Under some modern rules Durelle may have been declared Champion. In fact, the 3 knockdown rule was in existence in Canada at this time but was waved for the Championship bout. The challenger later admitted he was "thrown off" by the fact the rule wasn't enforced.
Moore was in a daze but managed to box his way back into the fight with a nice left jab, some strong hooks, and solid combinations over the next three rounds. In the fifth Durelle found the mark again. Moore was stretched out on his back. He again beat the count and survived. A lesser fighter would have relinquished his crown right then, folded over and quit, or fouled his way out. But Archie Moore had not yet begun to fight!
Despite the drubbing he was absorbing Moore said he began to feel better in the 6th. In the 7th the tide turned as Moore nailed Durelle with a hard combination that dropped him for a 3 count. He batterred Durrelle in the the 8th and 9th. In the tenth the bell saved the challenger from sure defeat. Then in the 11th, Moore twice sent Durelle to the canvas. The second time a devastating straight short right put him there for the ten count! Archie Moore had retained his title against all hope of winning. It was the most spectacular comeback in boxing history.
Archie, who often gave motivational speeches after he retired from the ring, used to carry around a 16mm film of the famous fight. He would show the tape to the amazed onlookers and declare, "no matter how out of it you are, you can always get up, come back, and be a winner!"
A lesson we all can learn from.
Willie Pep vs. Sandy Saddler: Sept. 8, 1950 Saddler had one their first meeting by a brutal 4 round kayo. Against the odds Pep boxed beautifully to win a clear unanimous decision. The 2nd bout in a 4 fight series.
Ray Robinson vs. Randy Turpin 2: Sept 12, 1951 Robinson had been upset by Turpin on a 15 round decision in their previuos encounter at the end of a long European tour by "Sugar Ray". Turpin, a fine technician, was giving Ray all he could handle the 2nd time around. In the 10th Ray received a nasty cut. This "unleashed the beast" and Robinson destroyed Turpin with a flurry of power punches.
Jersey Joe Walcott vs. Rocky Marciano: Sept.23, 1952 One of the 10 greatest heavyweight fights of all time. Walcott drops Rocky in the first and is on his way to a decision victory when Marciano catches him with a perfect right hand punch.