We’ve been waiting several months to see Usher‘s transformation into legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard for Hands of Stone, a forthcoming film about Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, one of Leonard’s biggest rivals.
Newly released photos from the set of the movie show the pop star 30 pounds slimmer and growing out a medium afro, a look he’s been working on since this summer.
“My commitment to his character demands that I not only physically get ready, but also become him,” Usher said in the November issue of Men’s Health. “Sugar Ray is an incredible man, I have to have his hair, his personality, the manner he conducts himself in, all (of) that.”
The Jonathan Jakubowicz-directed sports-drama also stars Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty) as Duran, Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) as Duran’s trainer Ray Arcel, Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) as Scottish boxer Ken Buchanan, and Cuban actress Ana de Armas as Felicidad Iglesias.
Duran, who went on to defeat an unbeaten Leonard in June 1980 and claim the WBC welterweight title, lost the rematch several months later in the infamous “no mas” fight.
Currently being filmed entirely in Panama and set to premiere in 2014, Hands of Stone serves as Usher’s first lead feature and De Niro’s third boxing film.
“I train like an athlete every day, believe it or not,” Usher said. “What he did as a boxer is no different from what I do as a dancer.”
In May he told Billboard, “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.”