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DALLAS -- For whatever boxing lacks in fan interest, it makes up for in promotion.

Fourteen men were on stage for a press conference to promote a fight at the American Airlines Center next month, and 12 of them talked.

And if those were the only voices you'd heard, you would think boxing is making a big comeback into mainstream sports.

"Boxing will never be what it was when I was growing up, back in the 60's, 70's," said Dallas Morning News writer Barry Horn, who used to cover boxing for the paper.

Boxing is big among Hispanics, which led Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to make this comparison.

"So when you have a Mexican against a Puerto Rican, that is the pinnacle of competition," Arum said. "It's like the Dallas Mavericks against the San Antonio Spurs."

This will be the first time HBO has ever broadcast a boxing match from the American Airlines Center, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he hopes it's the first of many fights here.

But you have to start small, and they have, with two featherweights whom most of us have never heard of.

Both the WBO champion Mikey Garcia, and the challenger Juan Manuel Lopez, have very good records and impressive knockout rates for featherweights, both at about 85 percent. But boxing's popularity is driven by the heavyweights.

"And now there aren't any heavyweights. We're looking for heavyweights," said former heavyweight champion George Foreman, who is helping promote the fight. "But at the same time, the lighter weights, the featherweights, are enjoying the windfall."

Horn said competition from other sports has hurt the so-called "sweet science."

"The greatest boxers in the United States are now linebackers in the NFL -- guys who would have been," said Horn. "It's just the way it is. Boxing has a long road back."

So boxing will remain on the fringes of mainstream sports in America, despite top-notch promotion.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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