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Usher will play Sugar Ray Leonard in his first film as a leading man, in “Hands of Stone”

Usher said he has been 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 (11 kilograms) 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 said he was honored to play Leonard in the film.

The role will mean dropping some weight. Usher said he’s currently about 172 pounds (78 kilograms) but will need to get down to about 150 pounds (68 kilograms).

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.