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Outside a rundown boxing arena, where an evening of fights is about to begin, boxing manager Tiny and trainer Red discuss their aging heavyweight, Bill "Stoker" Thompson, who is schudeled to compete that night. A few minutes later, at the Ringside Café, Tiny accepts a fifty dollar bribe from gambler Little Boy, who wants Stoker to throw his four-round match and assure the up-and-coming Tiger Nelson a victory. Tiny agrees to Little Boy's stipulations that Stoker "go down" after the second round, then informs trainer Red that he is not going to tell Stoker about the deal, as he is sure the boxer will lose the bout anyway. In a nearby hotel, meanwhile, Stoker tries to convince his concerned wife Julie that even though he is thirty-five, he is still only "one punch away" from a "top spot." Julie, who has dutifully supported her husband's declining career, is unmoved by his boasts and begs him to retire from the ring. When Stoker insists on continuing, Julie sadly informs him that she will not watch him fight that night. Disturbed by Julie's words, Stoker grows pensive while being prepped in the arena's crowded dressing room and listens thoughtfully to the hopeful, nervous chatter of his fellow boxers. Before Shanley, a young and frightened boxer, leaves to make his professional debut, Stoker notices that the light has gone off in his hotel room and happily assumes that Julie has changed her mind about the fight. As Julie is about to enter the arena, however, she hears the roar of the bloodthirsty crowd and retreats in disgust. After Shanley returns to the dressing room, glowing with victory, Gunboat Johnson, a washed-up middle-weight whose idol is a champion boxer who once suffered twenty-one losses in a row, is pummeled to defeat. Restless and depressed, Julie, meanwhile, walks the seedy streets near the arena, stopping on a bridge to watch the passing trolleys below. Back at the arena, two more fighters meet their opponents, one losing, the other winning. Stoker then enters the ring for his bout and is dismayed to see that Julie's seat is empty. As Stoker receives his last-minute rubdown, Little Boy and his girl friend Bunny place bets against him from the stands. Still unaware of Tiny's deal, Stoker ignores Red's advice to "stay away" from Nelson and goes after his opponent with conviction. By the end of the second round, Stoker has Nelson, who was told by Little Boy to go easy on Stoker during the first two rounds, against the ropes. Stoker continues to fight hard in round three, but is nearly knocked out by Nelson, who then calls him a "fink." Fearful now that Stoker may win the bout, Tiny tells him about Little Boy's deal and begs him to "lie down" in the last round. Although exhausted and bleeding, Stoker instead hammers Nelson with a volley of punches and knocks him unconscious. Stoker's unexpected glory is shortlived, however, as he is immediately condemned by an angry Little Boy. Aware that Little Boy's thugs are waiting to attack him outside, Stoker tries to sneak out of the arena, but becomes trapped in an alley. After Stoker, who has been beaten and pinned to the ground by the thugs, manages to slug Little Boy in the face, the enraged gambler crushes Stoker's hand with a brick, thereby ending his career. Sometime later, Julie sees Stoker stumble out of the alley and rushes to his side. As she holds her battered but proud husband in her arms, she asks his forgiveness, then assures him that they "both won tonight."