This was when he wasn't even regarded as, to use Floyd Mayweather's insuting description, an "ordinary" fighter.
You get banged out by Rustico Torrecampo and and Medgoen Lukchaopormasak--two guys whose names read like the charts at your eye doctor's office--and people say mean things.
But Pacman has turned out to be, sticking with the racehorse analogy, a thoroughbred along the lines of the great Seabiscuit.
But never let it be forgotten that the jockey, Boston Freddie Roach, rides his charge like he's Eddie Arcaro, Laffit Pincay or the legendary Willie Shoemaker.
The other day I heard a smat boxing guy say how the importance of trainers is overrated. That begs the question, though, of why there are so few Roach types around in gyms these days.
I applaud Roach for pulling the reins on Megamanny and cutting back his sparring. Roach is spot on in saying Manny does not need 150 rounds of sparring because it's overkill. As Roach noted, Pacman came to this camp in fine fettle because he bounced from the November Cotto bout to this match.
Sparring, not trainers, really is the most overrated and overdone thing in boxing and it's worse when you let a getting older (like Manny at age 31 and after 55 pro bouts) boxer leave his fight in the gymnasium.
Less is more when it comes to sparring and this strategic limitation by Coach Roach will pay dividends come March 13 against Joshua Clottey.
As for Clottey, is he doing any sparring? Or is he still trying to figure out who is going to train him.
The Clottey camp is beginning to look like "F Troop" while Team Pacquiao rolls along, never missing a beat.
Clottey's got heart but some Big Apple trainers, like Delen "Blimp" Parsley and veteran Lennox Blackmoore, told me Monday night at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn they can't see him derailing the Megamanny Express.
"Clottey will get to a certain point and then he will quit," Parsley said.
"I think Clottey will be competitive but not for too long," ex-fighter Blackmoore said.
Not exactly a rousing vote of confidence from his adopted home city, is it?
Maybe a look at Clottey in camp, now that he is in South Florida, will change my mind but I'm beginning to smell a Texas mismatch. Maybe I'm being too harsh but I wonder if the enormity of the event--the 30,000 fans and all that--might emotionally overwhelm "B side" Clottey.
A peaking Pacquiao might make Clottey look like it's his first rodeo if you know what I mean.