Legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard lent his talents to this weekend's robot boxing movie 'Real Steel' as a fight consultant. As Leonard explains, his job was less to choreograph the physical intricacies of boxing, and more to give star Hugh Jackman the look and feel of a boxer -- something Leonard is acutely aware of as a fan of boxing movies. Moviefone spoke to the Hall of Famer about his favorite boxing movies and how he cries during Ricky Schroeder's 'The Champ' just like you.
Gallery | Sugar Ray Leonard's Favorite Boxing Movies
'The Fighter' (2010)
"Well, you know what, that through me for a loop because I had no idea that it would be as successful as it was," said Leonard, who appears in the 2010 Best Picture nominee. "But, if you think back, it’s about the family and boxing was the backdrop. But I fought that guy back in 1978. I remember that fight like it was yesterday… and he was a crazy son of a bitch. But, you know he proved to be a tough fight for me. Being that he was considered to be a bar room fighter.
Did Dicky Ecklund trip or knock down Sugar Ray?
Oh, it’s such bullshit! It’s so obvious. But if you ask someone from Boston, they will say I was knocked down. It depends on what demographic you’re in."
"I saw ‘Rocky’ the night before my first professional fight. February 5th, 1977, at the Baltimore Civic Center. I remember like it was yesterday. Even though I was not the underdog, it still spoke volume to all fighters because we tried to be somebody. We’re trying to get out of that hole. But you can only do so many sequels, because you kind of lose that magic and touch -- that little thing that you can’t explain, but you know it's there."
'Raging Bull' (1980)
"When I think of a boxing movie -- a real boxing, hearts pounding, emotional attachment – I think about 'Raging Bull.' [Robert] De Niro, I mean that was just an amazing display of just sheer inside the ring boxing pounding."
'The Champ' (1979)
"That’s a movie I cried at. I’m not a crybaby, but that was one of the movies because you saw the human side of the sport of boxing. You took away the nature of the sport and you look at what was in the sport."
"You know, Will Smith, he blew my mind with the kind of shape he got into. I mean, he really, really, worked hard to be the fighter. And the thing about it: It’s not easy being Muhammad Ali. There’s only one Muhammad. It’s hard to duplicate Ali’s idiosyncrasies and Ali’s mannerisms. But Will did physically look like a fighter."
'Million Dollar Baby' (2004)
"Another one is ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ I loved it. I thought Hilary Swank separated herself from being Hilary Swank. She didn’t think about being effeminate. She really became a fighter with the look. That’s what I worked on with Hugh -- I didn’t necessarily work with him on the execution with the punches as much. But, more so, to look the fighter and to feel the fighter. And that’s what boxing is all about: It takes place outside the ring. What takes place before that fight. It’s always compelling if done right."
'The Hurricane' (1999)
"I had spoken to Denzel just after he had done the movie and I said, 'Denzel, look at you, man.' The reason boxing movies are so big and they really hit is because it’s one of the most primal, mano a mano, you against me – it’s one of those sports, man, where the average guy sits on his couch and lives vicariously through his favorite fighter. Nothing like it. And Denzel really, really got the character. I was so impressed with his performance because it’s not always about the punches, it’s about what the face reveals."
'Requiem for a Heavyweight' (1962)
"Another movie that comes to mind is ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight.’ That was one of my favorites, too. It was more about the emotional contest than the physical aspects of boxing. It’s about that once-in-a-lifetime shot. That one chance to become a contender or a champion. And that’s true to what boxing is all about being a poor man’s sport – is that shot. That shot as stardom."
[Top Photo: Getty]
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