Incredibly, the fight was postponed only two weeks, to September 29. Hopkins, having been in the city and witnessed the physical and emotional toll firsthand, told me he thought there was, quote, “no way in the world” the fight would be rescheduled that soon—he thought it would get bumped to sometime in 2002, in fact. But just in case, and being the maniacally disciplined athlete that he is, he never broke training camp.
Hopkins: I wanted to go to another place where we can train at. So the first thing I told Naazim is that, since nobody’s telling us nothing and we don’t know what to do, let’s go to Harlem or Brooklyn, because they ain’t gonna bomb there. I realized this is a terrorist attack, everybody know, so let’s go, let’s go where they’re not gonna bomb, and that’s the ghetto, so that if we go there, we fine. So let’s go there because they’re not gonna bomb the hood. You couldn’t get out of the city! But one thing I kept the course on is I must train until I hear something different. Now, eventually, we got out.
For Trinidad, who was staying at a hotel in lower Manhattan, it wasn’t so simple. Here’s Mark Taffet on how Tito and Don King dealt with the postponement.
Taffet: I think Don had a feeling that if Tito went back to Puerto Rico, the fight may never happen again. So he wanted to hold on. Bernard got into his SUV and went back to Philadelphia for a few days, but he was nearby and we knew that no one was more committed to that fight happening than Bernard Hopkins. It was everything for Bernard. It was exactly the opportunity he was looking for to take his legacy to another level. But in the case of Tito, we felt keeping him in New York was the way to keep the possibility of the fight open. Don knew he needed to keep Tito busy, and he also, being the great promoter that he is, wanted to keep some fight publicity going. So he did a beautiful thing. He took Tito around to firehouse after firehouse to visit with and speak with the firefighters. And not only did it keep Tito busy and focused, but it provided an incredible therapeutic benefit to the firefighters, at a time where they needed a release themselves.
That humanitarian/promotion-minded approach may have backfired on King and Trinidad, however. King’s then-PR ace, Alan Hopper explains.
Hopper: He was stuck in a hotel in a wounded city. I remember Bernard, as soon as they opened up the tunnels to get out, he drove back to West Philly and kept training. And Tito was stuck in New York City. And Don, as a lot of Americans did, went down and served food to the people going through the rubble and Tito went with them. Tito was a mean guy in the ring but a very wonderful and soft-hearted person outside the ring. And I don’t think it did him any good to have to stay in New York for those weeks when it was all set up for him to peak on the 15th, not September 29. And what people have to understand is, we’re never gonna know what would have happened if the fight would have taken place as scheduled.