Friday, September 9, 2011
Hopkins was part of first major Manhattan sport event post-9/11
By Michael Woods
Some of you will quickly determine that this is a 9/11-related item, and decide to ignore it.
I get that ...
There's bound to be some fatigue, as the media has been relentless with the looks back at Sept. 11. Some of you don't see the point in rehashing. It happened, it was horrible and sad, but you don't see the value in stirring up old emotions.
I respect your viewpoint. There's not necessarily any need to hear the recollections of one and all what they were doing when the towers fell.
But I think the fact that the the Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad bout -- which was set for Sept. 15 at Madison Square Garden, and then was reset because of the tragedy to Sept. 29 -- was the first major sporting event held in Manhattan since the World Trade Center attack makes Bernard Hopkins' look back on that turbulent time salient.
Hopkins was then the IBF and WBC middleweight champion, with a 39-2-1 record. He was "only" 36, and many thought his reign as titlist would be halted by the anvil-fisted Trinidad, who boasted a 40-0 mark, with 33 KOs, despite the fact that his best days were at middleweight. Hopkins-doubters thought the 28-year-old Trinidad, then the WBA middleweight champ, would retain the power he had at 147, beat Hopkins, and surpass Roberto Clemente as an island icon.
The terrorists' blow disrupted such enjoyable speculation.
The morning of the attack, Hopkins was in his hotel about four miles north of the Twin Towers. He'd finished up a run, and flipped on the TV as he cooled down.
"I saw the news and already one of the towers was on fire," he told me in 2006. "I was thinking it was an accident. Then I saw the second plane hit straight into the tower, and then and there, like everybody else, I knew it was no accident."
Promoter Don King reset the scrap for Sept. 29, and Hopkins did his best to stay on message mentally, and not let the fallout from the shocking event distract him.
"Fight night, there were K9s in the building and CIA guys, guys with mikes in their ear," he said. "I said to myself, 'This ain't business as usual.' But I knew I had a job to do."
The 10-bell salute to the fallen prior to the bout hit the hearts of the 20,000 fans at MSG.
Hopkins schooled Trinidad, and was saved by his dad, who rushed into the ring to halt the bout at 1:18 of the 12th.
"I became a star that night, that year," said Hopkins, who tied Carlos Monzon's mark of 14 straight middleweight title defenses on Sept. 29. "It was the worst day for America. It was many Americans' worst year. In my own selfish way, it was my biggest year. My fight will be attached with that history."