After a five-year prison stint, a recently-freed boxer must defeat the undefeated champion of Atlanta 'The Monster' to save his cousin from drowning into deeper debt. But the real fight lies outside the ring, where his steps are laden with betrayals, gunfights, and narcotics.
Cruiserweight boxer, Mario ‘The Monster’ Oliver fights an opponent as his dad/trainer/manager, Gino ‘Pops’ Oliver gives him instructions from his corner. Warden P.J. Brooks looks on as Mario knocks out his opponent. His fiancé, Zohra and his older brother, the WBO Heavyweight champion, Leo ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ Oliver cheer from the crowd. Ring magazine writer and aspiring manager, Nicole Avery writes about the fight from the press-box. The two cruiserweight champions have avoided fighting Mario, who is dead set on unifying the cruiserweight titles because of his ferociousness in the ring. Landon Calloway, who currently holds the WBC and IBF cruiserweight titles backs out of his fight with Mario because of a mysterious hand injury. Gino goes in search of another opponent after Landon backs out.
Warden P.J. Brooks runs a legal state-sanctioned prison boxing tournament as well as an underground fighting ring at Wellington State Prison. His top fighter, who happens to be an ex-prize fighter and cruiserweight, Raymond ‘Ray Ray’ Demps, is wrapping up a five-year prison sentence for a gamut of criminal activities is released. Warden Brooks tells Raymond that his name was chosen in a lottery system to fight Mario. Warden Brooks connects Raymond with former prizefighter/trainer, Joe ‘The Hammer’ Henry, who lives in Atlanta, where Raymond is moving.
Raymond is picked up in Wellington, Virginia, by his cousin, Vincent Alexander, and driven to Atlanta. Raymond starts working at Club Corral, reporting directly to his cousin Vince, who is the owner of the club. Although laden with debt, Vince leads the life of a king and gifts Raymond a luxury car, wads of cash, and a roof to live under.
Raymond meets up with Joe Henry, who has been tasked by Warden Brooks to train him. Joe, who himself has a grave history with boxing, agrees with Warden Brooks that Raymond has raw talent. Joe tells Raymond that he is supposed to be nothing but a body for Mario to beat up on as he climbs the ranks to become the cruiserweight champ. Raymond says that he’s ready to shock the world. It’s wobbly at first due to several distractions, but upon severe grilling, Joe prepares his student for the match of his life.
Meanwhile, Raymond falls head-over-heels for Heaven, a to-be doctor, who has great ambitions for herself. Although she was forced in the path of medicine by her overachieving father, Heaven has embraced her new life. She volunteers her time at the community center and has found a little brother figure in Justin, who looks up to Raymond. She is dismissive of Raymond's repeated advances at first, but then finally gives in when he begins teaching a class of self-defense at the community center for free. His actions win her over, and over time, they fall in love.
Amidst this internal race to win the match of boxing, Atlanta experiences a series of murders. Councilman Shaw, who is running for office, has Attorney Walter Griffin killed, for he was stepping in his way. Shaw chooses Vince for this dirty job. Vince and Shaw have an agreement; Vince pays Shaw a retainer-fee of fifteen grand a month, and in return, Vince gets to traffic drugs and narcotics in his district. Raymond witnesses the murder for hire at Club Corral. Vince explains to Raymond that it was a necessary power move because they are rooted in debt with a Colombian Cartel. Vince also tells Raymond that the money is on him, and he plans to repay his loan with the money he is hoping to earn from betting on the boxing match.
Nicole meets with Gino in an attempt to persuade him to allow her to manage Leo and Mario. Gino tells her that he is thinking of signing with a major management agency to take both his boys mainstream. Nicole feels the pressure from Gino to meet more on a personal level. She turns him down and shifts her attention to Raymond. Nicole sees an honest guy in Raymond and offers him a chance for management. He tells her that he wouldn’t have a problem being managed by a woman if she can get the job done.
Raymond finds himself entangled in a street war as Vince does battle with some out of town gangsters from Los Angeles, who are determined to take over his territory. They rob one of Vince’s stash houses and kill one of his workers in the process. They go as far as to target Heaven, which sends Raymond into action. Police target Raymond after being tipped off that he had something to do with a dirty cop on Vince’s payrolls murder. Barely escaping with his life after an attempted hit by the Los Angeles thugs, Vince has them murdered.
Gino tells Mario that Leo and himself won’t be attending the fight because of more pressing matters in China as they prepare for Leo’s upcoming heavyweight match. Thinking Raymond is going to be a pushover, Gino allows his brother, Felix, to lead Mario into battle. Mario is disappointed because Gino has never missed one of his matches.
Warden Brooks shows up in Atlanta and informs Raymond that he is running for Mayor of Wellington. He tells Raymond that he has laid down a significant amount of money on him because he needs money for his campaign run. Warden Brooks tells Raymond that he pulled some strings to get him the fight. He also tells him he will lay an unsolved murder on him that happened at Wellington during his stay if he doesn’t win and will make his next prison stay a living hell.
During the match, Raymond shows superb skills, knocking out the heavily favored Mario, despite the referee clearly siding with his opponent. Nicole and the crowd are all stunned that Raymond has come out of nowhere and embarrassed Mario. Vince, his crew, and arena security have to escort Raymond to the locker room as disappointed spectators try and enter the ring to get some payback. Gino and Leo are highly upset after getting the news that Mario got knocked out and is in the hospital with a concussion and a broken collarbone.
After the match, Vince shows his true colors and a life, and death struggle ensues. Far away, Leo reads an article titled Ray Ray KO’s the Monster in ATL, Georgia, in a magazine with vengeful eyes.
New Jack City