Usher Talks Sugar Ray Leonard Role: Rather Than Act, He Wanted to ‘Feel Like a Boxer’
By Radio.com staff
Usher may have a new album coming out, but the singer has his movie career to consider as well — including an upcoming turn as boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
In an interview with WPGC in Washington, D.C. (a Radio.com station), the R&B artist went deep about his role in Hands of Stone, the upcoming Roberto Duran biopic, in which Usher plays Leonard, one of Duran’s rivals, talking the type of training one can expect for such a role.
“It was intense,” he said. “I push my body when I’m working on performing I do a two-hour set and I’m never still — I’m dancing, I’m singing, I’m moving around. I never stand still on the stage, so to be able to be in the ring with an opponent in front of you who’s trying to tear your head off, you have to figure out how to move. Sugar Ray wasn’t a boxer who stood still… He moved all around that ring; you never could catch him in a corner. His defense was his ability to move and shock you.
“To analyze, train with him, really work on myself as a boxer, I didn’t want to act it — I wanted to feel like a boxer, so I spent days and nights — months — preparing with a trainer in Atlanta.”
That training culminated in shooting for the film, which Usher said took place in Panama alongside costars Robert DeNiro and Edgar Ramirez.
The singer said that Hands of Stone touches on the famous No Mas Fight, which occurred in 1980 in New Orleans. During the spar, which was between Leonard and Duran, the latter famously gave up by telling the referee, “no mas, which is Spanish for “no more.”
“Not too long ago on ESPN they ran a special on 30 and 30 that talked about the No Mas Fight — what happened leading up to it, why it happened, did Duran throw the fight, was it cramps, was it somehow other thing that altered him from fighting in the ring?” Usher explained. “Those questions are answered with this movie, and it’s exciting because it’s a real conversation that, to this day, people argue.”
Finally, Usher added that though fans may come to see him in the role as a boxer, they just might stay for a sex scene.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a sex scene, but in this movie I do,” he said. “That’s the one thing nobody is talking about. Everybody said, ‘Oh man, I heard you’re doing a film where you’re boxing’… wait ’til you see the sex scene.”
Usher said Hands of Stone trailers could start trickling in later this year, with a goal to release the film by the end of this year, if not the first part of 2015.
He just released “Good Kisser,” the first single from his upcoming eighth album, which does not have a title or release date.