A boxer has a mother and a fiancée who don't want him to fight and promoters who want him to lose so they can make money betting.
The night before his champion fight Charlie Davis (John Garfield) drives into the city to tell his mother Anna Davis (Anne Revere) that Ben died. Peg (Lilli Palmer) comes in; Charlie embraces her and leaves. Charlies goes to hear Alice (Hazel Brooks) sing and drinks bourbon. The next day Charlie weighs in and hits his opponent Marlowe. Roberts (Lloyd Goff) tells Charlie to lose because of the money bet.
Charlie remembers the past. He has just won an amateur boxing championship and dances with Peg, who is in a swimsuit. He sees her home and meets her roommate who sculpts. Peg draws Charlie, and he kisses her as he leaves. His friend Shorty Polaski (Joseph Pevney) takes Charlie to Quinn (William Conrad), who manages boxers. Charlie's mother objects to boxing, but his father gives him $10 for equipment. His father is killed in an accident.
Shorty provokes a fight with a boxer so that Quinn can see Charlie punch. Shorty, Charlie, and Peg have dinner with Anna Davis. A woman comes in and interviews Anna so she can receive charity. Charlie tells Shorty to arrange a fight and goes outside. Peg joins him and says she loves him.
Charlie wins several fights. Quinn tells Charlie and Shorty that Roberts wants Charlie. Peg welcomes Charlie home to his luxurious apartment. Shorty tells Peg to marry Charlie now because her rival is money.
Ben Chaplin (Canada Lee) has a blood clot but tells Roberts that he will fight Charlie. Peg sees Shorty attacked, and Shorty walks into a car. Peg tells Charlie to quit, but he says he is on top now. Peg says she will not marry him. Charlie gets money from Roberts. Charlie gives Ben a job. Roberts tells Charlie that he is favored 2-1 over Marlowe and says Charlie must lose. Charlie takes more money from him. Roberts gives Ben money too, but he refuses it. Quinn tells Alice who to bet on. Charlie calls on Peg. Before the fight Charlie has a nightmare.
Charlie fights Marlowe and knocks him out to become the world champion. Alice is angry. Charlie tells Roberts that he is his own man and is retiring. He implies that Roberts can kill him, but he realizes that everyone dies.
This classic drama of crooked gamblers using a boxing
champion to win money betting implies that some men believe that
a promise must be kept so that money can be made, while others
think they should fight to win money honestly; but the sensitive
women are disgusted by a violent sport that damages people for
no real purpose but to entertain others.