Hands of Stone, the story of two boxing legends; starring Usher, hits theaters today along with "Champions," new music from the singer, straight off the film's soundtrack. In a recent interview he explained how he prepared to take on the role as Sugar Ray Leonard.
Most people have a specific playlists of high-energy songs to get blood and adrenaline pumping to fully execute tasks that require a lot of energy. Boxing is one of those energetic tasks but to prepare for his upcoming role as boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, Usher (Raymond) didn't turn on 50 Cent's "In Da Club," he put on some smooth jazz.
In a recent Fuse TV interview the "No Limit" singer spoke on how smooth jazz and watching the techniques of another boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson, helped him to prepare for the role.
"Before I studied Sugar Ray Leonard, I first and foremost started to study Sugar Ray Robinson, and some of the music that he was listening to was jazz," explained Usher during his Fuse TV interview.
He explained how he developed a rhythm in jumping rope to jazz music but once inside the ring, it became all about '90s hip hop music that kept him going.
Leonard, himself revealed to USA Today how initially he was a little skeptical to have the R&B singer portray him in the film but, once they began to talk and workout together, he changed his mind.
"I did a couple of moves in the ring with my feet and he mimicked me right back," explained Leonard to USA Today. "Being an incredible dancer helps. But from jumping rope to hitting the bag, he was more natural than most. And he followed through like a soldier."
While Raymond portrayed Leonard in the film, his co-star Edgar Ramirez took on the role of boxer Roberto Duran. Ramirez is also featured on the new single appropriately titled "Champions."
The Caribbean-groove single was released on Thursday, Aug. 25, as reported by Singersroom, in addition to another song, "Missin U," set to be included on the forthcoming September album, Hard II Love; recently changed from Flawed.