Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's been a minute since we've done a mailbag, so let's get to it. As always, I don't actually get any reader mail, so I poach questions from other mailbag features.

First up is Stephen Edwards' boxing mailbag at Boxing Scene. He does not identify his questioners, but the question I am looking at is:

More impressive at 23, Canelo or Lopez? The poise from both these dudes at that age is remarkable. But wouldn't we all get to see this skill from many more fighters if more competitive fights were made? Can we ever get back to that point or is the long game build for ppv potential here to stay.

This is two questions, so let me take them separately. Teofimo Lopez, heralded primarily as a knockout artist first and foremost, basically outwitted Vasily Lomachenko, widely regarded to be in the top three or five pound-for-pound best boxers in the world, owing to his smarts and technical craft. The conventional wisdom on Lopez is that if he was going to beat Lomachenko, it'd be because of his power. No one expected him to outpoint Loma, but he did.

It's hard to overstate how impressive that is. He has already proven he has game-changing power, now he has proven he has the boxing intelligence to match. And yes, he's only 23. How is anyone going to be able to create an effective game plan against him?

So I've already shown my hand, but yes, Lopez is the pick for me. As much as Canelo hung right with Floyd Mayweather was when he was 23, he still lost. Lopez won his Mayweather-esque fight.

As far as matchmaking goes ... fights with a clear favorite that do not look, on paper, like they will be very competitive is a necessary evil that I don't think there s any getting around. Implicit in your question is the idea that matchmakers could schedule better fights, but don't because ... well, why exactly? Whether the format is pay-per-view or cable or streaming or even over-the-air, obviously a good matchup has a better shot at making money for the matchmakers and promoters than a dud (although it needs to be noted that ratings clearly show that people will tune in more for a "name," even if he's fighting a tomato can, than they will for unknown, but evenly-matched fighters).

Very often, a fighter will demand more money for a fight than the market will bear. That's not the matchmaker's fault. Neither is Covid, or the fact that fight camps usually want to bring up their most prized prospects through the ranks slowly. There's all sort of factors at play that make absolutely cracking matchups week in and week out hard to achieve.

That said, some matchmakers are better than others. While not necessarily true for their PPV undercards or Fox cards, Premier Boxing Champions shows on Showtime are almost always impressive in the way intriguing and evenly-matched fights are put together. That, and the fact that their head honcho, Al Haymon, seems to be the only non-megalomaniac promoter out there, is why PBC is the best boxing promotion today.

@IA11STAT asks the Heartland College Sports Big 12 mailbag: As much as I want them to, Oklahoma State is not making the Big 12 Championship game, right?

I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't rule them in, either.

I wouldn't make any bold predictions about the Big 12 this year. Have you noticed how wild it is? If I'm counting right, 10 of the 15 conference games that have occurred so far that did not involve Kansas have been decided by a single possession, and 14 out of 15 have been two-score-or-less games.

We might have a real logjam at the front by the time the season's over, like the Southwest Conference in 1994. Check out these standings. Texas A&M was ineligible for the title, so that left a five-way tie for first among the other seven teams (Texas Tech won the tiebreaker and the Cotton Bowl berth, where they got thumped by USC).

Finally, Dave Cherubin asks the Patriots mailbag: Have Dolphins taken themselves out of the AFC East race by starting Tua? Fitzmagic give them a better chance to win?

Not in the slightest. Take it from a fan of a former Fitzmagic team, he never stays good for long and indeed he has never made the playoffs in his 15+ year career. I think Brian Flores knows what he's doing. Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson have shown us that rookie QBs can sometimes step right in and succeed. Certainly Tua is no stranger to the bright lights. This was a good move.

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