Congrats to Usher Raymond! For months, there’s been speculation that the Grammy-winning singer would be playing Sugar Ray Leonard in a new film. And this week, the rumors were confirmed. The 34-year-old singer is playing the legendary boxer in “Hands of Stone,” a new boxing film about the great brawler Roberto Duran. Usher is preparing to play Leonard — a fighter with fast hands, smooth feet and a wide smile — for more than a year and still needs to lose nearly 25 pounds before shooting begins in October.
The movie is based on Duran, a world champion in four weight divisions over a career that spanned five decades. Duran, whose nickname was “Hands of Stone,” rose from the slums of Panama to defeat an unbeaten Leonard in 1980 and claim the WBC welterweight title, only to lose the rematch several months later in the infamous “no mas” fight. Usher confirmed his excitement in playing the new role:
“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. I’ve been working on familiarizing myself with the ring, sparring and just understanding how to move in the ring.”
Usher said the rivalry between Leonard and Duran was one of the most exciting and unforgettable in sports.
“It’s an incredible story to be told. The metaphor of determination and struggle is one we can all relate to. He had such incredible discipline, and he was flashy and classy at the same time. I want to be as passionate and dedicated in preparing for this role as he was every time he stepped into the ring.”
The cast also includes Robert De Niro as Duran’s Hall of Fame trainer, Ray Arcel. Edgar Ramirez, who was recently in “Zero Dark Thirty,” will play Duran.