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The Setup is a boxing drama about an athlete named Stoker Thompson (Robert Ryan). With his best days of fighting behind him, no one believes that Stoker can win anymore. His wife is tired of watching him get hurt and his manager Tiny (George Tobias) hasn't had faith in his abilities for a long time. Tiny takes money from the mob and agrees that his client will purposefully lose his next boxing match. Tiny is so sure that Stoker will be defeated that he does not tell him about the arrangement and plans to keep Stoker's share of the money for himself. At the arena, Stoker faces Tiger Nelson (Hal Fieberling), a much younger boxer with an impressive record. In the middle of the fight, Stoker discovers what his manager has done. The situation gives him a new resolve to win and he does everything in his power to participate in the best fight of his life.