We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. But none of us thought he was that good.

It was Nov. 15, 2003, and Pacquiao was challenging the recognized featherweight champion of the world, Marco Antonio Barrera, in San Antonio. Barrera, regarded as one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world at the time, had just defeated archrival Erik Morales. And he was at the height of his career.

Most everyone figured Pacquiao would give the Mexico City-born Barrera a good fight. But virtually no one outside of the Philippines thought he could beat him

But beat him he did. After suffering a flash knockdown in the first round, “Pac-Man” demolished Barrera in convincing fashion. The look in Barrera's eyes was one that boxing fans had never seen before. It was an expression of shock and surprise.

As if to say, “Can this guy really be punching me this hard?”

It was similar to the look that Pipino Cuevas wore when he tasted the first couple of right hands from Thomas Hearns in 1980.

Part confusion, part fear.

Like Hearns against Cuevas, Pacquiao was not just hitting Barrera hard. He was hitting him fast. And doing it in short, powerful bursts, from a southpaw stance. By round three, it was obvious that Barrera had no chance at all, outside of a lucky punch. But he wasn't even mounting an offensive.

Because he was too busy fielding bombs.

When the end finally came in the 11th round, and Pacquiao's hands were raised in victory, it was almost a relief to those watching at ringside and on international television. It had become a mugging. Pac-Man had won almost every round, battering his opponent at every turn. And Barrera was thoroughly defeated.

We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. But not that good.

The victory elevated Pacquiao to god-like status in the Philippines. In America, he has become appreciated, and has steadily climbed up the pound-for-pound rankings.

If he's not regarded as the second-best fighter on the planet right behind Floyd Mayweather, then he should be.

Those of us who may have forgotten how scary-good he was against Barrera back in '03, were reminded in January. When he destroyed yet another Mexican legend, Morales.

In a lot of ways, the rematch between Pacquiao and Morales mirrored the massacre of Pacquiao-Barrera. Never had Morales been thrashed so decisively. Sure, it was a little more competitive early on, when Morales had his legs. But everyone watching got the sense that Pacquiao would go on to win decisively. There was no cut to contend with, which may have led to Pacquiao's loss to Morales in the original fight, March 19, 2005. There were no distractions.

Pacquiao was prepared. And he seemed bigger, faster and stronger from the opening clang.

The fight began to turn as Morales's legs turned to spaghetti. Suddenly, “El Terrible” had no answer for the raging storm in front of him. And it soon became target practice for Pac-Man. The fight was mercifully stopped in the 10th round.

We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. But not that good.

In less than three years, Pacquiao has destroyed two of the best Mexican fighters in history. That Morales is getting another chance today doesn't bode well for him. He'd need a time machine to hold off Pac-Man.

And when he's done with Morales, Pacquiao will look toward Barrera again. And though Barrera, too, is one of the best fighters in the world, there is little reason to believe that he can beat Pacquiao. Distractions or not, the first fight was a massacre.

And once Barrera is out of the way, Pacquiao may go looking for Juan Manuel Marquez, just to lay the questions about their 2004 draw to rest. And, if he does that, he will have beaten the ferocious trio of Morales, Barrera and Marquez in a career that will have exceeded expectations.

We knew Manny Pacquiao was good. And now we know he is probably great.