Boxing as a sport has become an afterthought for many Americans, but it continues to be a popular medium for storytelling. Take "The Fighter," a commercial success that's also a dark-horse Best Picture contender.

Boxing as a sport has become an afterthought for many Americans, but it continues to be a popular medium for storytelling. Take "The Fighter," a commercial success that's also a dark-horse Best Picture contender.

So it's unfathomable that FX's outstanding boxing drama "Lights Out" is a ratings disaster. I could argue again that the Nielsen ratings system is inherently flawed. But unlike "Terriers" - another exceptional FX show with "low" ratings - there's no fervor for "Lights Out."

OK, so the story - about a retired boxer's quest to regain the title - isn't original, but boxing tales usually aren't. They focus on human drama, and "Lights Out" is masterful in that area.

Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) gets an ultimatum from his wife after losing a brutal championship bout to rival "Death Row" Reynolds. It's either her or boxing.

Five years later, Leary's facing money woes and is indebted to local mobster Hal Brennan, thanks mostly to his brother Johnny ("The Wire's" Pablo Schreiber).

Returning to boxing is not about proving he's "the champ," but about making ends meet. The doctors, who've diagnosed Leary with pugilistic dementia, be damned. Pair these well-told stories with a deft visual style, and you've got a knockout.

Here's a quick catch-up so you won't be left in the dark.

Tuesday's episode saw Leary's victorious comeback fight against the vicious "El Diablo" Morales in a second-round knockout - although Morales' odd stare at Brennan suggests the fix may be in.

Filled with confidence, Leary's ready for the title shot. But his father/trainer (the gruff Stacy Keach) won't help him, fearing he isn't ready for Reynolds and could get seriously hurt.

This development opens up a magnificent bit of storytelling over the next two episodes as Leary hires new trainer Ed Romeo ("Oz's" Eamonn Walker), who's also Reynolds' original mentor and trainer.

Walker is a virtuoso as Romeo, a broken, untrusting man who was dumped by his son-like protege and has avoided the "corrupt" world of professional boxing since then.

Ratcheting up conflict, Romeo tells Leary that his family is a distraction. It's a powerful dilemma - Leary is enamored by his new trainer, but he can't just "cut out" family.