This is no easy task, but give it a shot.
Picture Manny Pacquiao in the year 2007. I know it's hard to do. He's become such a superstar that it's hard to picture him before his rise to fame or remember why he rose to such an epic level, but this is the year before the meteoric ascension truly began.
Here's a glimpse at Pacquiao's career and frame of mind at the end of 2007:
He's just defended his super featherweight (130 lbs) championship against Mexican boxing legend Marco Antonio Barrera. He plans on fighting Juan Manuel Marquez in a rematch of their 2004 featherweight (126 lbs) classic battle. The big news of that year is that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is retiring after his final match against Ricky Hatton.
No matter how humble Pacquiao may be, he believes himself to be the best and brightest star in the sport of boxing. There isn't a fighter that doesn't feel like he's the best. So when Pacquiao won the Ring Magazine's 2006 Fighter of the Year award, he wanted that distinction back in 2007. Instead he saw Mayweather take it by defeating a 34-year-old Oscar De La Hoya by split decision and then knocking out Ricky Hatton—a fighter Roach has admitted to thinking "is not really good." That must have hurt Pacquiao.
Pacquiao wants to be considered better than Mayweather. How does he get his Fighter of the Year title back in 2008? Well, he rematches Marquez and beats him by split decision.
He's beaten the great three Mexican fighters that were the talk of the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, then moves up to the lightweight (135 lbs) division to beat David Diaz for a world title in a fifth weight class.
That's a great resume, but it needs something. This is about when Freddie Roach starts thinking. He realizes from his fighter's easy victory at 135 that Mayweather, a welterweight (147 lbs), is not that far away. Maybe Pacquiao only needs a few fights to be truly capable of giving Mayweather his first loss.
I believe Roach developed a plan to get Pacquiao the fame he believes he deserves instead of Mayweather—and that road has been intended to go through Mayweather. The following slides I have presented will display Roach's plan, opponent by opponent.
Pacman beat Oscar badly, but Oscar was also paid handsomely.
This fight put Pacquiao on the map on a more global level. De La Hoya had fought in the 154-160 range in the most recent fights previous to his clash with Pacquiao. With this fight being fought at 147, that made De La Hoya have to work extra hard to make the weigh-in.
The uncomfortable weight drain made De La Hoya a tired slow-moving target easily hit by Pacquiao's fast punches. He retired in his corner before the start of the ninth round, realizing his old self to be gone over the course of this fight.
This fight was against a more lively opponent in Ricky Hatton, but not necessarily a better one.
Pacquiao fought him at junior welterweight (140 lbs), a weight at which Hatton fought most of his professional boxing career and then held a world title.
Hatton has never been much on defense and that didn't serve him well in this fight. Hatton was knocked out in the second round.
After beating two opponents that Floyd Mayweather defeated before he retired, Pacquiao ascends back to 147 to face an opponent some say Mayweather retired to avoid fighting: Miguel Cotto.
Known for his bodyshot knockouts and persistent stalking of opponents in the ring, Cotto had only been previously beaten by Antonio Margarito (a.k.a. Plasterhands), who was discovered in his very next fight to have plaster in his gloves.
Margarito could very well had used that plaster against Cotto in their fight, and this could be used to argue Cotto to be an undefeated fighter until he fought Pacquiao.
Pacquiao dominated Cotto after the first round or two, winning by TKO in Round 12. Pacquiao won a world title at 147, giving him a world title in a world-record seventh weight class.
Joshua Clottey is bigger than any other opponent that Pacquiao had ever faced. Even though he fights at 147, he hydrates himself up to 170 to gain a notable size advantage over his opposition. This did not work in Clottey's favor this time.
Pacquiao used speed and persistence to keep nailing Clottey's turtle-shell defense where he sticks his head into his chest and raises his big forearms over his face and chest to keep from getting hit.
The fight was a snoozer, but Pacquiao proved he could confuse a defensive fighter by throwing hundreds of punches a round the entire fight.
Margarito beat Miguel Cotto and also could be challenged for the vacant 154 title, but those weren't the significant properties of this match. What is significant is that Margarito is another big opponent, except he's Pacquiao's age.
Another aspect of this match is that Antonio Margarito is the first fighter that fans and boxing media have ever claimed to be ducked by Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather's alleged reputation as a ducker didn't gain any ground or notoriety until he supposedly turned down $7-8 million to fight Margarito.
Mayweather split from Top Rank, the organization that promotes Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey and Manny Pacquiao. He wanted control of his own career and money, eventually landing the Oscar De La Hoya fight.
By beating Margarito, it gives Pacquiao a win Mayweather never had against an opponent many wanted him to face.
Shane may be next if Mayweather is still unavailable.
Sugar Shane Mosley is being considered the next opponent if Floyd Mayweather Jr. cannot be made to deal. The problem is that both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have egos the size of demigods and will not relent very much on their stances. The minute they both release the grip they think they have on the negotiations, a fight between them will be made.
Until then, Sugar Shane Mosley is being planned for May 7, 2011. Mosley was previously defeated May 1, 2010 by Floyd Mayweather by unanimous decision. If Pacquiao knocks Mosley out, that will be another accomplishment to hang over Mayweather's head.
Mosley has never been knocked out, but he's getting older and some believe his age will make him more susceptible to a knockout. One exciting factor in this match that makes Mosley more appealing than any other fighter Pacquiao has faced since Oscar De La Hoya is how hard Mosley hits. If Pacquiao does indeed fight Mosley, he will officially be the hardest-hitting opponent Pacquiao has ever faced. Despite this fact, the demand for Mayweather over Mosley is fierce.
Even if Mayweather vs. Pacquiao does not happen, Pacquiao is making sure to beat everyone around Mayweather's skill set.
Every opponent originally desired to be a Mayweather opponent is becoming a Pacquiao opponent. This puts Mayweather in an uncomfortable position. His legacy gets trampled by Pacquiao with each fighter he disposes of that Mayweather has never fought or each fighter Pacquiao knocks out quicker than Mayweather did.
Even though Mayweather may strike back with an impressive win over a great fighter like he did against Shane Mosley last year to one-up Pacquiao's decision to fight Joshua Clottey, I'm sure Pacquiao will be up for the challenge of one-upping Mayweather.