NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Grammy-winning singer Usher is stepping into the boxing ring to portray Sugar Ray Leonard in the new film "Hands of Stone."

Usher says he has spent more than a year preparing to play Leonard, who was known for his fast hands, quick feet and wide smile.

The film is based on the story of boxing great Roberto Duran. He rose from the slums of Panama to become a world champion in four weight divisions. Duran's rivalry with Leonard included three bouts. The most infamous was the "no mas" fight.

Robert De Niro will star as Duran's Hall of Famer trainer, Ray Arcel.

Filming is scheduled to begin in Panama in October.