"Southpaw," the long-in-the-works boxing drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Antoine Fuqua, will finally step into the ring July 31.
Written by "Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter and "The Equalizer" scripter Richard Wenk, "Southpaw" tells the story of a lefthanded junior-middleweight champ (Gyllenhaal) whose life is sent in a downward spiral by a tragic accident. With the help of a washed-up former boxer (Forest Whitaker), he begins to battle his way to personal and professional redemption.
Like its scrappy protagonist, "Southpaw" has taken it on the chin a few times in the past. DreamWorks was originally going to make the movie in 2011, back when it was intended to be rapper-actor Eminem's return to a starring film role, his first since 2002's "8 Mile."
But DreamWorks dropped the film, and MGM picked it up for a time, only to put the project in turnaround. "Southpaw" ultimately found a home at the Weinstein Co. in 2013.
A longtime boxer himself, Fuqua told The Times in 2013 that the film is "about boxing but it's not about boxing. The heart of the movie is about a man learning to be a father."
Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, is enjoying a string of intense, well-regarded performances in films including "End of Watch," "Prisoners" and "Nightcrawler." (He's up for a Screen Actors Guild Award on Sunday for his work in the latter movie.)
To prepare himself for "Southpaw," Gyllenhaal hit the gym hard and packed on muscle, as the photo above attests. In a recent interview with The Times, the actor said, "I spent six months training for this." He added, "Now I'm looking up boxing all the time. It will be a part of my life forever."
Other movies on the fight card July 31 are Warner Bros.' "Point Break" remake and Focus Features' sci-fi thriller "Self/Less."