This film, however is not a paint by the numbers account.The plot is basic,but deftly realized.John Garfield wants to be the champ.William Conrad is the corrupt promoter who is hell bent on getting him there as long as he plays by the rules and stays under his thumb.
The supporting characters of course consistently warn Garfield of selling out. Anne Revere plays his devoted mother who has faith he'll remain honest. Lili Palmer as his girlfriend and Joseph Pevney as his best friend are there to buoy his confidence.
Garfield becomes conflicted to playing by the corrupt rules that put fighters like him on the take and his sense of duty and responsibility to his friends,family and his neighborhood, all of him are proud of the local boy made good.
Of all the performances in this film, besides that of Garfield, the show is stolen by Canada Lee.Lee,sadly did not get very many great roles like this as an African American actor. He has a show stopping seen in a sparring ring where he seems to have a flashback to his glory days in the ring and acts it out on a shadow sparring partner.
All too often John Garfield never got the roles his talent required and tragically died too young to provide many more gems like this. The legacy of this film is a fine baseline for an underappreciated actor.