How big is Pacquiao?

Some boxing insiders consider Manny Pacquiao to be the biggest boxer to come around since Muhammad Ali. AP Photo

As we watched the crush of people watching Manny Pacquiao's public workout Tuesday, I asked a couple of people whether they could think of any historical parallels.

A couple did argue that, at his peak, Oscar De La Hoya was as big, at least in certain markets, and that a similar event in San Antonio would have brought similar numbers to watch the "Golden Boy." But apart from that? Sugar Ray Leonard? Dare we even say it: Muhammad Ali?

"He's getting there," said Bob Arum, who promoted several Ali fights, of the comparison with "The Greatest." "The difference is that some of Ali's popularity was ideological, with the Nation of Islam, the opposition to the Vietnam War. As a result, there were some people who detested him. That isn't the case with this kid."