Next year, singer Usher will put on the gloves and make the boxing ring his stage as he plays the role of Sugar Ray Leonard in "Hands of Stone," a biopic about legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran. The R&B crooner opens up about his part in the film, which stars Robert De Niro and Gael Garcia Bernal.

"It was a role that would be a challenge," Usher tells The BoomBox. "First and foremost... the way he has been perceived as an All-American artist and kind of became this All-American icon."

Usher says the film delves into Duran's upbringing and famed boxing career. Duran's rivalry with Leonard is highlighted as one of the defining moments in "Hands of Stone."

"The first fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran would prove that Sugar Ray Leonard had to grow," the Looking 4 Myself creator states. "But also Roberto Duran grew. The second fight that they had was really a product of what that first fight was. And I don't know if you know much about boxing, but it was such an incredible display on Sugar Ray Leonard's part that Roberto Duran quit."

As Usher prepares to play Leonard, he must be in top-notch shape -- even if it means working out in the the midst of the summer heat.

"If you see me running around the city in scorching weather with a sweatsuit," he shares, "you know that I'm getting ready for my role as Sugar Ray."

"Hands of Stone" is set for a 2013 release.



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