Former heavyweight contender and one time WBA heavyweight title challenger Cedric Boswell was, during his ring career, often spoken about as a ‘Sonny Liston lookalike.’ Something of a dead-ringer for Liston, Boswell, who fought from 1994 to 2011, was then a natural choice for the producers of the forthcoming movie “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World” when it came to handing out the role of Liston in the biopic.
Along with other real fighters such as Carlos Takam (who plays Joe Frazier in the film), Boswell will no doubt add a degree of authenticity to the movie in the minds of hardcore boxing fans/Foreman fans when they go see the film when it’s released in late April.
Boswell, who retired with a fine 35-2(26) record in 2011, kindly took the time to speak with ESB about his portrayal of the great, and greatly misunderstood, Liston.
Q: When did they call you and ask you about playing the role of Sonny Liston?
Cedric Boswell: “It was probably about two years ago. A friend of mine, he knew the producer that was putting the film together, and he said I had to play Sonny Liston. They were trying to find somebody who looks like him, as close as they could get it. I had to do an interview and of course screen tests. I had to do everything just like anybody else in order to get the part.”
Q: And of course it has been said over the years that you really do look like Liston…
C.B: “Yes, over the years everybody was saying that, and then it came to pass (laughs).”
Q: When did you film your scenes?
C.B: “It was around a year ago, we filmed in California and also in New Orleans.”
Q: I guess you can’t give too much away, but what can we expect from your part? Foreman and Liston were of course sparring partners back in the day, this when Foreman was a raw teenager.
C.B: “Yeah, he learnt a lot from Sonny Liston. I never knew that until doing the film. Sonny Liston was George Foreman’s mentor when he first became a pro. It’s exciting. It was exciting [playing Sonny]. At first he didn’t like George Foreman when he started working with him, he had a chip on his shoulder.”
Q: Are you a big Liston fan and did you study him at all prior to playing him in the film?
C.B: “I studied him a little bit, but because I was a big Sonny Liston fan I knew a lot about him. But I studied him just a little bit before [shooting] – you know, the way he acts, the way he walks, the way he throws his punches, stuff like that. It’s not a big part, although I do have dialogue. It’s not a big part but it’s a part that you’ll remember.”
Q: It’s great when they have real fighters playing fighters in boxing films. Was this film hard to make, or was it enjoyable?
C.B: “It was a little bit of both. I wouldn’t say it was hard work, but it was stuff like, you had to remember your lines and your punch count. Of course the punches were a little different to what I was used to, so I had to get that down, as far as pulling them. But it was exciting for me.”
Q: Have you done any acting before now?
C.B: “Yeah, I did a film, a romantic comedy. It came out last year, on Prime Video. It’s called Switched at Love. So I’ve got a little experience [in acting]. I was asked to do a couple of movies when I was boxing and I turned them down then. But when they come for me now, I take ’em. I didn’t really want to be an actor or anything like that but they [parts] do come to me.”
Q: Did you spend any time with George on set when making the film?
C.B: “George was never there. They said he came a couple of times but I never saw him myself.”
Q: And the guy who plays Foreman, Khris Davis. He really does look like George! How were the fight scenes/sparring scenes with him?
C.B: “Yeah, that’s true (laughs). It was great working with him. He wasn’t really a big boxing guy, but he was great and he was learning as we went and I had to show him a lot of stuff. He was a quick learner and he learned how to throw the punches right. He became a boxing fan before the film was over with.”
Q: I guess you really had to make sure you pulled your punches, as you could have let loose and dropped some bombs on him!
C.B: “Yeah (laughs), we had to work on the punches, to make it look real, but sometimes it got a little heated in there and we threw real punches!”
Q: What is your favourite boxing film? There are so many.
C.B: “The movie Ali, and the Sonny Liston movie. Will Smith played Ali.”
Q: Looking back at your career, you beat guys like Oliver McCall and Roman Greenberg, who was heavily hyped. You always wanted a fight with Klitschko, right?
C.B: “That [the Klitschko fight] was supposed to happen when Lennox Lewis fought [Vitali] Klitschko; he was supposed to fight Kirk Johnson, but Johnson got hurt so Lennox had to fight me or Klitschko and he chose Klitschko. But they had to pay me money to step-aside. I was supposed to get the winner of the two but that never happened.”
Q: Getting back to Liston. You’re a big fan as you said. What is it you like about Liston? Obviously he was great and a great puncher.
C.B: “What I like about him is, he was a good guy, a good person, but the media made him into a monster. He was a good family man, a good husband. But he was a mafia guy. I mean, he was into the streets and stuff like that. I just like the way he had determination to be better in life as a person.”