If, like me, you cringed when James "Lights Out" Toney decided to disgrace both himself and the sport in which he has made his name last year, when he was decimated in a farcical "Boxing vs. MMA" match with Randy "The Natural" Couture in Boston, this week's episode of FX's boxing drama Lights Out brought some degree of satisfaction.
In the episode, entitled "Bolo Punch," former heavyweight champ Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) is pressed into action to bail out his brother, the ne'er do well Johnny (Pablo Schreiber), when he gets in too deep with a local bookie.
Lights convinces the bookie to let him fight his MMA-trained hired muscle (well-played by former UFC heavyweight champ Bas "El Guapo" Rutten) to settle the debt.
What takes place is a well-choreographed, exciting and realistic cage match: a fictional version of the kind of match that many in boxing had hoped James Toney might have been capable of last year, had he not been over-the-hill and out of shape.
McCallany, 46, though an actor, is well-versed in both boxing and MMA, and is in the kind of condition that Toney could only dream about at this point in time...and as "Lights" he comes through and defeats Rutten's character with some last-second heroics.
In an interview with April MacIntryre of monstersandcritics.com, McCallany says, "When I learned [my character] Patrick was going to fight in the cage, I immediately recommended Bas as my opponent. He and I had worked together before on another series and I was his student for several years."
"Bas is one of the best martial artists in the world and that's not just my opinion; ask anyone in MMA," McCallany continues. "When you work with the best, it elevates your game as well."
Of the realism in the fight scene itself, McCallany explains, "it ends with him almost finishing me with a choke but at the last moment I hit him with a punch to the throat followed by a left hook to the head.
"I remember Bas telling me 'it's okay... hit me in the throat. I'll just flex my throat muscles.' I didn't want to, but he insisted, so I hit him in the throat, hard, to make it look good."
"All I can tell you is what you already knew," says McCallany. "Bas Rutten is a very tough guy."
As for the show itself, its ratings have steadied in the last two weeks, and it is now performing better than the cancelled FX series Terriers did last season, so there is still hope for a renewal as Lights Out finds its audience.
"We are just building now on our viewership and to build up a core in our ratings," a hopeful McCallany told the Examiner. "We hope to stick around."
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