A champion boxer fights to get his daughter back from child protective services as well as revive his professional career, after a fatal incident sends him on a rampant path of destruction.
As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.
Billy Hope (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is the undisputed light-heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He is unbeaten over a career of 43 fights. He is happily married to beautiful Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and has a young daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence). His life seems perfect, but then, during a fracas with a rival boxer, his wife is shot and killed. They had known each other since they were 12 years old, and now the bottom has fallen out of his world. The death of his wife sends Billy into a downward spiral, resulting in him being barred from professional boxing for a year, the loss of his house and almost all his possessions and, most painfully, the loss of his daughter to the custody of Social Services. In order to gain back his daughter and restart his life, he seeks out a particular trainer, Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). Now he is starting his life again, at the bottom.
From the mean streets of Manhattan's infamous Hell's Kitchen to a luxurious life of riches for him, his supportive wife, Maureen, and their beloved 10-year-old daughter, Leila, the undisputed with forty-three victories in a row World Light-Heavyweight boxing champion, Billy "The Great" Hope, is living the perfect life. However, this dream will vanish in a puff of smoke, when the zealous and dangerous contender, Miguel "Magic" Escobar, challenges the champion--and after an outburst of rage and a devastating gunshot--nothing will ever be the same again. But, now that everything Billy has so ferociously fought for is lost, there's only one way to find redemption; however, is there still hope for the greatest battle in his life?
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as troubled boxer Billy Hope in this high-stakes drama from director Antoine Fuqua and Sons of Anarachy creator Kurt Sutter. At the height of his fame and success, Hope is convinced by his loving wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) to retire from the sport in order to spend more time with the couple's daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). On the night of his retirement announcement, a rival boxer calls out Hope and an altercation breaks out, killing Maureen. Hope's self-destructive behavior worsens, and Leila is taken away by child services. In order to redeem his life and get his daughter back, Hope must return to boxing under the tutelage of hardened trainer Titus "Tick" Willis (Forest Whitaker).
Billy "The Great" Hope is an undefeated professional boxer living in the suburbs of New York City with his wife Maureen and their daughter Leila. Billy's particular style of fighting often leaves him beaten and bruised. During a match in which he defends his light heavyweight world title, Billy sustains an eye injury as well as heavy blows to the face and body, leaving him coughing up blood for days. He is finally convinced by Maureen to retire before he becomes forever "punch-drunk". During the press conference at the post-match, an up-and-coming boxer Miguel "Magic" Escobar taunts Billy and tries to get Billy to fight him. At a charity event for the orphanage where he and his wife both grew up, Escobar is in attendance, and as Billy is leaving, Escobar threatens he'll take Maureen and his title away from him, and while Maureen tells Billy to let it go and go home with her, Billy's anger gets the best of him, leading to a brawl in which Maureen is accidentally shot and killed by Miguel's brother Hector, who flees..
- Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an undefeated professional boxer living in New York City with his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and their daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). During a match in which he defends his World Light Heavyweight title, Billy sustains an eye injury and is convinced by Maureen to retire while he's at the top. At a charity event for the orphanage where he and his wife both grew up, Billy is taunted by an up-and-coming boxer, Miguel "Magic" Escobar, leading to a brawl in which Maureen is accidentally shot and killed by Miguel's brother Hector, who flees.
Billy begins abusing alcohol and drugs while obsessively searching for Hector. He eventually gets a tip of his whereabouts, but finds only his drug-addict wife Maria (Rita Ora), and leaves after learning Hector is a father. After attacking a referee out of frustration after losing a fight, Billy is suspended and left indebted, leading to his house and belongings being repossessed. He continues to spiral out of control and nearly dies after crashing his car while driving intoxicated, which also causes him to lose custody of Leila, who is put under care of Child Protective Services officer Angela Rivera (Naomie Harris). The incident drives Billy to become sober, but Leila cuts ties with him, blaming him for their predicament.
At the behest of friends, Billy gets a job at a gym owned by seasoned boxer, Titus "Tick" Wills (Forest Whitaker), and eventually convinces Tick to become his trainer. Billy's former manager Jordan Mains (50 Cent), who is currently managing Miguel, arranges a fight between the two that could put Billy back in the spotlight. Tick is reluctant to train Billy, fearful he might be blinded by his vendetta against Miguel, but is motivated to do so when another of his students is killed by his abusive father while attempting to defend his mother.
Leila is reluctant to forgive her father, but she is allowed to watch the fight by closed circuit in the locker room with Angela. As the match begins, Miguel has the upper hand against Billy, but, with Tick's advice, Billy has the chance to turn the tables in the final round by using the Philly shell defense and countering more aggressively with his left. As the round reaches its final minute, Billy pivots hard and, although fighting from a traditional stance, delivers a powerful left uppercut (southpaw, from which the film takes its title) which sends the champion down to the ground. Miguel manages to get up before the count is over and is saved by the bell. Billy is declared the winner by a split-decision and reunites with Leila in the locker room, where she forgives his past mistakes and they embrace.