The main problem with a film like 'Fighting' is the expectations that come with the obvious - fighting, or fight sequences. Although the movie centers on fighting, it seems like attention was spent elsewhere. In other words, the filmmakers did not conceptualize intricate fight sequences that would leave Bruce Lee breathless. On the contrary, the fights here are very low brow, meat and potatoes, bare knuckle, anything goes kind of brawl, which I'm not opposed to whatsoever. Personally, every now and again, the over-orchestrating of fight sequences can be a bit too much for me, but the minimal aspects here lend quite nicely to the main character's plight to survive.
As you've probably read the other reviews, the story surrounds the nicest small-time drifter once could ever hope to meet (quite a stretch I may add). He holds doors for strangers, pays fair prices for goods and aside from the funky smell & shabby clothes, you'd be proud to bring him home to mother for Thanksgiving dinner. Although money is the object of his desire, he struggles to keep the only thing he's got going for himself - his pride. Something from his past that has made him run but must soon face head on. Howard stars as a small time conman with connections but in his older age, he represents the road Tatum could be headed. He takes him under his wing, primarily for the potential of making plenty of dough but soon realizes that a life without dignity isn't worth much. For example, to Howard, throwing a fight seems like smart business-making but for Tatum it means letting go of your most fundamental values as a person.
I enjoyed the movie for what it was worth although I could clearly see the potential for a deeper, more soulful searching between the characters. Although it failed to deliver the latter, it was consistently paced well. If you have some time to kill, not expecting to see anything remotely close to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, you like Terrence Howard or Channing Tatum (or dare I say like both of them), have washed your hair twice in one evening already and finished that 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle, then do give this a watch. I have seen better but I have definitely endured worse.
On a minor note, I believe someone mentioned the love interest's mother as cliché'; I definitely agree although it was indeed her grandma, not her mom.