Watch Usher Play Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard
Usher knows how to rock a stage, but the R&B star is once again taking his talents to the big screen. Though the singer has appeared in shows and films like Moesha, Light It Up, and Soul Food, the “Matrimony” crooner is taking on his biggest role yet.
In the upcoming film Hands of Stone, a biopic about famed Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán, the singer plays six-time world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, one of Durán’s biggest rivals.
The film features the pair’s legendary matches more than thirty years ago, including the November 1980 bout dubbed the “No más fight” because Durán told the referee, “No más, no más,” which translated to “no more” in Spanish, after he was hit in the face by Leonard.
Usher called the project “a labor of love,” and said getting in shape was a challenge.
“These guys, they put themselves through — literally — hell in preparation for these fights,” Usher said of Leonard and Durán, two of the best fighters of their generation. “The first thing [co-star Edgar Ramirez and I] connected on was, ‘How are you losing the weight, how are you holding it?’”
Usher, who’s already in pretty great shape, cut down his body fat even more through a series of grueling workouts and by following a strict diet. He also trained with Leonard himself to perfect the boxer’s signature flamboyant, yet devastating, style.
Apparently, it paid off. In Hands of Stone Usher turns in a moving performance as the champ.
In addition to Usher, Hands of Stone stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Leonard’s wife, Juanita Leonard, Robert De Niro, Ruben Blades, Ana de Armas and Ellen Barkin.
Check out the four-minute behind-the-scenes featurette explaining how Usher put in the work to become Sugar Ray Leonard below.
And watch the official Hands of Stone trailer, here:
Hands of Stone hits theaters August 26.