The daughter of a boxing trainer, Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan
) grew up skipping rope in a downtown Detroit gym. She watched in wonder as young men struggled to become champions, and hoped that one day she would be involved in the sport that was in her blood. Now, at 36, Jackie's ready to carry on the family tradition. Trying to make her mark in the boxing world, Jackie spends a lot of her free time working the room at D'Agostino's, a pugs and thugs hangout.
When Jackie ends up in a verbal sparring match with boxing kingpin Sam LaRocca (Tony Shalhoub), he sells her the contract of one of his fighters for a dollar... and that's just about what Devon Green is worth. But Jackie's dollar ends up being well spent anyway. When she goes to Devon's apartment to introduce herself as his new manager, she arrives as Luther Shaw (Omar Epps) is beating him up. Instantly, she recognizes that it is Luther, not Devon, who has the potential to be her champion and enlists veteran trainer Felix Reynolds (Charles S. Dutton) to help her turn Luther from a jail-bound punk into a streamlined prizefighter.