As a welterweight from the wrong side of the tracks, Dickie Eklund is the pride of working class Lowell, Massachusetts. Living in his shadow is his half-brother and sparring partner Micky Ward. It's part of the Irish pride to let Dickie lead the way and win a championship belt first. However, after suffering a humiliating defeat to Sugar Ray Leonard, Dickie plunges into a nightmare of crack addiction, violence and prison. His family's hopes are crushed in the wake of Dickie's demise. Like a real life Rocky, Micky fights on his own terms and pulls his family out of despair with his meteoric rise in the ring. Freshly paroled Dickie finds redemption training his little brother, now known as "Irish" Micky Ward, for his Welterweight Championship bout with Shea Neary.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dick Eklund (Christian Bale) sits on a sofa in 1993 and talks to the camera about his boxing career and fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. His brother Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) sits beside him and Dick says Micky is a boxer also but has a different style.At a crossroads the two brothers work preparing asphalt for paving. Dicky jokes around for a camera crew. Dicky and Micky walk through a neighborhood of Lowell, MA followed by a HBO camera crew. They greet and joke with a variety of locals and shopkeepers. Micky is serious, Dicky playful and goofy.Micky is at a gym waiting for Dicky to train. An older man, a cop Micky O'Keefe (as self) steps in to help. Mother Alice Eklund (Melissa Leo) arrives and tells O'Keefe to get out, it is Dicky's job, the two argue. Dicky is smoking up with friends, he is two hours late before he runs off to the gym. Micky works the speed bag on his own as Dicky arrives panting. Dicky tells the camera crew Micky has lost three in a row. They train, Alice and Dicky reminisce about the Leonard fight.The whole family is at a bar, Alice and her daughters explain who is who in the large family of Eklunds and Wards. At a bar Micky eyes the attractive bartender Charlene (Amy Adams). They chat and a gallant Micky asks her out for Saturday, when he returns from a big televised fight in Atlantic City.Micky goes to see his daughter at his ex's house, she is very bitter as it is not a regular visit day. He tells the young girl Kasie this next fight will be his big break and he will get a bigger apartment.Everyone is ready to leave in the stretch limo but Dicky is missing. They stop off at a green house, Dicky has been using drugs and has lost track of time. Alice knocks on the door and Dicky tries to duck out the back window. The family has a squabble in the backyard, Dicky slugs his step father George Ward (Jack McGee) and Micky is exasperated.In Atlantic City the promoter says the planned opponent has had to cancel because of the flu but there is a replacement. The other fighter is 19 pounds heavier but supposedly poorly trained, Micky is hesitant but Dicky assures him it will be OK. In the ring Micky is battered and beaten badly by the larger man.The gang run into a dapper Sugar Ray Leonard who greets Dicky politely but makes a quick exit to get away from him. A promoter, Mike Toma, offers Micky a chance to come and train in Las Vegas and receive a monthly paycheque. Micky sits forlornly as the rest of entourage drink up in the stretch limo on the way home, they put down the Vegas idea.Back home, Alice says she will find a better fight next time, Micky goes into hiding with a heavily bandaged face. He watches old home movies. Charlene comes looking for him demanding to know why she was stood up for their date. Micky takes her to a suburban movie complex where they suffer through a boring art flick. He then says he was embarrassed to lose and show his face in Lowell. They kiss.Three weeks later Alice looks for Micky, one of the seven sisters tells Alice he is with the tramp from the bar, they all disparage Charlene.Alice finds Dicky at the green crack house, she is in tears as Dicky tries to cheer her up. they both sing "I started a joke..." song. Micky has Charlene over to meet the family as Alice and Dicky arrive at the house. The women start bickering right away. Alice has a new fight lined up at Foxwoods for $17500 but Micky and Charlene appear set to go their own way.Dicky talks with the gang at the crack house on some scheme to get $200 ea from 10 people, they turn him down.Charlene shows off her high jump skills to a happy Micky. At night Dicky observes a street walker pick up a trick. He pretends to be a cop but is chased by real cops. There's a street fight and wild melee, Micky comes to help and the brothers are arrested and Micky's hand is hurt.Dicky is arraigned on muliple charges while Micky is released, his right hand in a cast. Dicky is sent to jail and is walked to his cell to the chants of the other prisoners. Micky is depressed and tells Charlene he is finished fighting, but she convinces him to meet a new manager.Dicky is in his cell and goes through the DT's as he withdraws from his drug addiction. Micky works as a roofer, his hand heals. Dicky is feted as the guest of honour at a prison showing of the HBO special. It turns out the documentary "Crack in America" is about him as a pathetic drug addict and not as a plucky boxer striving for a comeback. Micky phones his ex-wife to not let his daughter watch the show about her uncle but the ex gleefully allows Kasie to see the grim story unfold on the screen. At the Ward/Eklund house the family are stunned by the show, they don't let Dicky's son watch. It finally hits a nerve with Dicky and he turns off the TV to angry jeers from his fellow inmates. Charlene comes over to Micky's to commiserate. Dicky is depressed.Early the next morning Micky slips out to go to the gym, under O'Keefe's guidance. Music video training montage, Micky trains on the streets, Dicky trains in prison also. O"Keefe introduces Micky to Sal Nanano (Frank Renzulli), the deal is no Dicky no Alice. They will start small, start local.Alice is furious at George for cutting her out as Manager. The seven sisters and Alice pile into a car and head to Charlene's, blaming her for the breakup. As Micky and Charlene engage in loving foreplay the angry women arrive. There's a hair-pulling cat fight on the porch, Micky tells his family to f*** off and slams the door.Micky gets his game face on for his next fight, his robe labelled "Irish Micky Ward". In round 4 he batters his opponent and wins easily. Several more victories follow as Micky is "back in the saddle again".In prison Dicky trains hard himself to stay in shape. Micky visits and they discuss the next fight with the heavily favoured Sanchez, Dicky says Micky is being used as a stepping stone. Micky leaves upset but Dicky gives him parting advice to hit to the body with his left.Alfonso Sanchez from Mexico is undefeated and highly touted on HBO. The fight starts and Sanchez hits Micky hard. After five rounds everyone thinks the fight should be stopped. By the eighth round the beating continues and Micky is dropped but manages to get up. Alice describes the action to Dicky over the phone. Suddenly Micky lands a heavy kidney shot with his left and Sanchez drops like he was shot, Micky wins!In the locker room eveyone is jubilant. Sal comes in with big time promoter Mike Toma who says Micky has earned a title shot and congratulates him on his strategy.Dicky is released from prison and meets his son and Alice outside the gates. They go to the gym to see Micky training. The welcomes are initially warm and friendly, the seven sisters arrive with a cake. Then an argument starts, Charlene and O'Keefe demand Dicky leave, Alice and Dicky say Micky needs them. Micky wants them all to get along but Charlene and O'Keefe storm out. Then, in sparring Micky brutally knocks Dicky to the mat, as Alice comes to his aid Micky cries out that Dicky has always been the mother's favourite.Dicky walks away with the cake, he approaches the green crack house with his old drug buddies gathered outside. They greet him and expect a return to old times but Dicky pauses, gives them the cake and moves on. He goes to Charlene's house to talk. She fills the air with expletives to get him to leave but finally agrees to talk. Dicky acknowledges they hate each other but Micky needs them both, Charlene finally begrudgingly agrees. Micky shows up and hugs Charlene as Dicky continues walking away down the street.Now the two brothers train well together as Dicky pushes Micky hard.The family is in London for the weigh-in for the big WBU welterweight title fight with Shea Neary. The undefeated Neary and his manager diss Micky and his abilities at the press conference, Micky glowers at them but doesn't return the trash talk.Micky enters the arena to the crowd boos Dicky singing along and pumping up his younger brother. Neary follows to the cheers of his adoring home crowd. In the ring Neary starts fast and batters Micky, who covers up and absorbs the punishment. In the 7th round Micky is knocked to the canvas but gets up at the bell and Dicky revives him in the corner. Dicky gives him a motivational speech to push him to do better than he ever did. A determined Micky gets up and starts taking the battle to Neary. The two men trade punches, finally Micky connects and down goes Neary! He gets up but again is quickly knocked down, Micky wins by TKO! The crowd is stunned as Micky's entourage celebrate.Back on the sofa in front of the camera, Dicky proudly talks about his kid brother Micky, sitting beside him.