Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boxing alive on FX

By Mark Podolski

Who says boxing is a dying sport?

Apparently, not FX. The cable network known for its critically acclaimed TV dramas "Justified," "Rescue Me" and "Damages" (now on DirecTV) debuted its latest in January, this one about a retired former heavyweight champion.

"Lights Out" (10 p.m., Tuesdays) takes the viewers into the fascinating and - at the same time - scummy world of boxing, as well as what it might be like after an athlete hangs it up.

Patrick "Lights" Leary, played by the excellent Holt McCallany, was once the heavyweight champ before losing a controversial bout to relinquish the belt. The show starts five years after that fight, as Leary is enjoying his retirement (or so we think) in his mansion with his wife and three daughters.

Then, everything quickly unravels. Leary's seedy brother loses the ex-champ's fortune, the mob gets involved, bills don't get paid, medical conditions are kept secrets and of course a Don King-type enters the picture. And of course, Leary makes a comeback into ring.

In many respects, "Lights Out" has all the typical boxing movie characters and story lines. There was even an underground mixed martial arts fight that you know occurs somewhere in this country. It was one of the most riveting scenes of the show's early run.

While "Lights Out" has been a critical hit, without the ratings (which haven't been there), it's a question mark how long the show will last. Until then, climb into the ring with "Lights" Leary and see how long you last.

Bet you go the distance, however long that might be.


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