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Remembering a True Champion: Yvon Durelle

By Bill Tibbs


Yvon Durelle, known throughout his career as “The Fighting Fisherman,” was born in Baie-Sainte-Anne, New Brunswick, Canada, October 14, 1929. Durelle is best known for his exciting, light heavyweight championship fights with Archie Moore in the late 1950s. The quiet, soft spoken Durelle was a top contender, former Canadian middleweight champion and British Empire light heavyweight champion. His career record boasted an impressive 114 fights with 87 wins, 48 knockouts, 24 losses, two draws and one no-contest.


Durelle turned pro in the summer of 1948 and fought exclusively on Canada’s East Coast and except for a couple of short trips south to New York, would do so for the remainder of his career. Durelle racked up 36 wins in his first 41 fights up to the end of 1952. He picked up the Canadian middleweight title in his first fight of 1953 and eight fights later, beat Gordon Wallace for the Canadian light heavyweight title. In his second defense of the title, Durelle lost a split decision to Doug Harper in November of 1953. In the rematch two months later, he inched closer to regaining the national strap but was held to a draw by Harper. In his next fight, Durelle would leave his home cooking for one of his few career road gigs and lose an eight-round unanimous decision to an undefeated up-and-comer named Floyd Patterson. After dropping a 10-round unanimous decision in his next bout back in Canada, Yvon would put five straight wins together and finally bested old foe Harper to regain the Canadian light heavyweight title. However, in his next 21 bouts, taking him to the spring of 1957, he accumulated a mediocre 11-10 record. However, Durelle did face some very strong competition in this run. From the spring of 1957 to the fall of 1958, Durelle would fight 18 times, posting an excellent 15-2-1 mark.  He closed out 1958 facing Archie Moore for the World Light Heavyweight title at the Forum in Montreal. While Durelle would drop Moore three times in the first round and again in the fourth, “The Old Mongoose” hung tough and wore down the Eastern Canadian favorite, eventually stopping him in the 11th round.
 
After a win in the interim, Durelle got another shot at Moore and his National Boxing Association (NBA) light heavyweight title. Having figured out the Canadian brawler the first time up north, Moore stopped him in three rounds this time. After three more wins, Durelle got a shot at Canadian heavyweight champion George Chuvalo at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. While showing tremendous determination and heart, Durelle was eventually knocked out in the 12th round by the legendary, world-class tough guy. Over the next four-and-a-half years, Durelle would only fight seven times, going 5-2. “The Fighting Fisherman” finally hung up the gloves for good after an outstanding 16-year, 114-bout career in December of 1964.
 
In retirement, Durelle coached boxers in his hometown and ventured into business opportunities. After he retired, Durelle was also inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In an ESPN article about the most memorable boxing matches in history, Hall of Fame referee Mills Lane was quoted as saying, “I don’t think you’ll ever see a fight like Durelle-Moore again. That fight transcended what great fights are.” Durelle suffered a stroke on Christmas Day 2006 and passed away on January 6, 2007. Yvon “The Fighting Fisherman” Durelle was truly one of the most popular fighters in Canadian history. Gone but never forgotten.
 
Rest in Peace, champ!

(For Image of Yvon Durelle - CLICK HERE)
 
Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.
 
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