Billy Bob Thornton will star in boxing drama Pound for Pound, based on a novel from F.X. Toole (Million Dollar Baby).

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ron Shelton will write and direct the indie film.

The project centers on the parallel lives of a retired and widowed boxer beset by depression after his grandson is killed in a car accident and an up-and-coming teenage Latino fighter from a difficult background. The lives of the two intersect in unexpected ways. Thornton will play the retired boxer, while producers are out to cast on the younger role.

Producers say that despite the dark undertones, there remains an optimistic note to the pic. "Unlike Million Dollar Baby, which was fabulous but a dark movie and a tragic story, this is a dark story but with a life-affirming, hopeful ending," Greif said.

The project aims to shoot in the first quarter of 2010.