Lee Groves

10: Greatest light heavyweight title fights

1. December 10, 1958 — Forum, Montreal, Canada — Archie Moore KO 11 Yvon Durelle I

 

Setting the Stage: Though nearly 13 years younger, the 29-year-old “Fighting Fisherman” from New Brunswick appeared to pose little threat. He sported a respectable 78-19-2 record and captured the Commonwealth belt from Mike Holt five months earlier, but his ledger couldn’t compare to that of the legendary “Mongoose.” With more than 200 fights and 173 wins under his belt, Moore was seven days away from finishing his sixth year as world champion and three days from turning 42. Moore’s seventh defense was expected to be fairly routine, but, as Moore knew well, Father Time was always lurking around the corner.

What Happened: Fifty-seven seconds after the opening bell Durelle shocked the boxing world by landing a thunderbolt right that sent Moore crashing hard for a four count. With the hometown crowd in a full-throated frenzy, Durelle stormed after Moore with all guns blazing. Moore fell a second time, more from Durelle’s pressure than a single punch. Just seconds after rising at two he was blasted to the floor a third time from yet another right. The 22-year veteran called upon every resource to survive the final 60 seconds and return to his corner. As the referee — former heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey — walked toward his corner, Moore smiled and winked to convince him he was fit to continue.

Moore proved his resilience in rounds two through four by calmly dissecting Durelle with educated jabs and deceivingly quick crosses. Just when it appeared Moore had put the chaos behind him it returned in the fifth when another powerhouse right scored Durelle’s fourth knockdown. Again, Moore was forced to survive and again, he did it brilliantly, though he did so on tottering legs.

Moore’s skills laid the groundwork for a historic comeback that allowed him to repay Durelle in equal measure. Three solid rights scored the first knockdown in round seven while a beautifully delivered four-punch volley produced the second late in the 10th. Saved by the bell, Durelle had no more to give. Two more knockdowns followed in the 11th, the final of which came from a ferocious hook-right to the jaw.

Those final two punches allowed Moore to register his 127th knockout, supplanting Young Stribling as boxing’s knockout king. The stylish Moore couldn’t have asked for a more fitting scenario to illustrate his own greatness — as well as that of the light heavyweight division.

 

 

Photos / Tavoris Cloud by Javiel Centeno-Fightwireimages.com

Photos / Gabriel Campillo by Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos.com

Photos / Marvin Johnson from Peltzboxing.com

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