Robert De Niro has signed on for Hands of Stone, a biopic on the life of famous pugilist Roberto Duran, according to a Monday report from Deadline.
Don’t worry, boxing fans. According to the website, De Niro won’t embarrass himself by going shirtless and putting on the gloves. (He’s not Stallone.) Instead he’ll take on the role of Duran’s trainer, Ray Arcel.
The fighter role will go to Edgar Ramirez, and the pair’s relationship will be the centerpiece of the film, which takes place during the golden days of the sport before it became overrun with lousy alphabet organizations and submitted by something called mixed martial arts.
Roberto Duran was a titan in the ring, winning 103 of his jaw-dropping 119 bouts. He duked it out with Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Hector Camacho, Vinny Pazienza, and, most famously, Sugar Ray Leonard.
In fact, it’s Leonard that makes one wonder whether Duran is even good inspirational sports movie material. Duran and Leonard fought three times. The first two bouts were back-to-back.
Duran won a unanimous decision on June 20, 1980, back when boxers were real men and slugged it out for 15 rounds. Five months later, they faced off again, but this time Duran quit in frustration during the eighth round.
(The fight would come to be known as the “No Mas” fight because that’s what Duran reportedly said when he threw his hands in the air and marched back to his corner.)
The third fight would come close to a decade later, ending in another Leonard decision in a match-up that had only a fraction of the excitement surrounding the first two contests.
Apparently, Sugar Ray Leonard has also been cast with a pretty famous singer in the role:
(Or, as you may know him, “that guy from The Voice.“)
Robert De Niro will come to the project from another boxing film that he has on tap, Grudge Match alongside co-star Sylvester Stallone. In this one, he actually will take off the shirt and put on the gloves, so perhaps we gave him credit too soon.
Of the two films closest to recapturing some of his Raging Bull glory, Hands of Stone probably has the best chance.
As for Ramirez, the Zero Dark Thirty alum has Libertador opening in Venezuela in July, but there hasn’t been a US release date announced. His IMDb resume shows Hands of Stoneslated for 2014.
Do you think Robert De Niro is a good choice for Ray Arcel, and boxing fans, do you think a film on the life of Roberto Duran will work?