By Ted Sares
Sadly, I have just learned that former British empire boxing champion Yvon "The Fighting Fisherman" Durelle has died at age 77. Family members said he suffered a stroke on Christmas day and also had Parkinson disease. He died in a hospital in Moncton on Saturday. His 1958 ebb and flow classic with Archie "Old Mongoose" Moore made him a Canadian legend and is one of the most memorable fights of all time.
How would you like to watch an entire fight with the ebb and flow of the last round of Castillo-Corrales ? This one, one of the first fights broadcast coast-to-coast on American television, earned the 4-to-1 underdog, Yvon, cult status for his performance.
In an ebb and flow classic that all hardcore boxing fans must see to believe, the rugged French Canadian decked the "Mongoose" an incredible three times in the shocking first round with savage shots and appeared to be on his way to a certain stoppage victory. But he missed an opportunity when, after the first knockdown, he stood over Archie inexplicably watching for several seconds before returning to his corner. As a result, the referee had to wait before beginning the count. Moore just made it to his feet at the count of nine and somehow managed to weather the storm and survive the round. Then, incredibly, he began to work his way back ever-so-slowly. But Durelle swarmed all over the Mongoose for four more rounds viciously decking again in the 5th round. Still, he would not fold. The blows being thrown were of the pier six variety. Each knockdown shot was a "haymaker," each was malevolent, but Archie always got back up.
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 everyone of them to come back from the brink of defeat. Durelle finally went down in the seventh. And then again in the tenth round. Archie then settled matters once and for all in the eleventh when he finished the spent Canadian as the crowd watched in disbelief. This classic gave new meaning to the words "courage" and "comeback," and thankfully I remember it. I was 20 at the time.
Archie "Old Mongoose" Moore ended his career with a slate of 183 - 24 - 10 with an astounding 141 ko's. He fought for an incredible 27 years and knocked out more opponents than anyone else in the history of boxing. 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. "I'm like the drunk in the bar who wants just one more for the road." Archie once said.
Durelle's record would stand 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 the country's boxing hall of fame. He was also the subject of a book, The Fighting Fisherman, by Raymond Fraser in 1981.
Rest in peace Archie and Yvon and thanks for the great memories.