Grammy winner Usher will be playing Sugar Ray Leonard in the upcoming film Hands of Stone.
The Voice judge said he has been preparing for the role for over a year, and still needs to lose 25 more pounds before shooting begins in October. Currently weighing about 172 pounds, Usher needs to get down to around 150 for the role.
The 34-year-old said that he was honored to play Leonard. He also said he believes his dance skills will aid in his transition from the stage to the ring.
“You couldn’t find a more stylized boxer than Sugar Ray Leonard. He was an incredible motion guy, the way he moved around the ring, and I think my dancing will make it easier for me to pick up his moves,” Usher said. “I’ve been working on familiarizing myself with the ring, sparring and just understanding how to move in the ring.”
Usher said he will be meeting with Leonard in the coming weeks, and that he has been studying his tapes.
“I want to be as passionate and dedicated in preparing for this role as he was every time he stepped into the ring,” he said.
Hands of Stone is about legendary boxer Roberto Duran, a world champion in four weight divisions over a five decade career. Duran, who made his professional debut in 1968 when he was only 16, retired in 2002 at age 50 following a car crash in October 2011. He finished with a professional record of 119 fights, 103 wins with 70 KOs.
Duran was born in El Chorrillo, Panama, and was raised in the slums in the district “La Casa de Piedra (The House of Stone).” The film’s title is derived from Duran’s nickname, “Manos de Piedra.” Duran will be played by Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramirez, who played CIA operative Larry in Zero Dark Thirty and CIA assassin Paz in The Bourne Ultimatum.
Duran and Leonard fought for the first time on June 20, 1980. Dubbed “the Brawl in Montreal,” Duran defeated Leonard for the WBC Welterweight title by a 15-round unanimous decision.
Duran and Leonard met for a second time five months later. Duran quit the fight in the eighth round, walking to his corner and supposedly uttering, “No más (no more).” Duran says he actually said, “No quiero pelear con el payaso (I don’t want to fight with this clown).”
The third time the two fought was almost a decade later in 1989. The fight was called “Uno Más (One More)” by promoters, and, in a reversal of their first fight, Leonard won by unanimous decision.
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