This was not the look of victory, it was the despair of lost mystique.
Yes, Las Vegas judges Glenn Trowbridge and Dave Moretti delivered Manny Pacquiao a crowd-stunning majority-decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night at the MGM Grand.
But Pacquiao's reactions spoke of something different.
If you saw the fight, you understand.
While the 38-year-old Marquez briefly basked in the celebration of an apparent triumph after the 12th round, lifting his right fist to the air as if to forever puncture the cloud of close-call shortcomings versus Pacquiao, the Filipino superstar retreated to his corner to kneel and pray.
By executing a superior counterpunching display that defused Pacquiao's aggressive style and subjected the world welterweight champion to a routine of punches in the face, Marquez accomplished so much.
He gained a measure of redemption, revenge and was at his best on his biggest stage yet.
Marquez wasn't around to see it, but Pacquiao revealed the hollowness of his 15th consecutive "victory," showing up at his post-fight news conference as a beaten man.
It wasn't due to the discomfort of 28 stitches to close the cut he suffered in a 10th-round head butt.
It was because he failed to please his fans, because he was subjected to a chorus of boos after being named the winner and because he again couldn't figure out Marquez.
"He's always backing off and waiting for me to create action," Pacquiao said. "And when I do, he counters. It's not easy to create action, with him waiting for a good shot."
Pacquiao was asked if he was disappointed in himself. Had he failed to follow the fight plan?
"No, I'm not disappointed," Pacquiao said, his people trying to get him off the stage rapidly to avoid dwelling in the down mood. "It's just my feet."
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said his fighter was complaining of cramping in his arches, a situation Roach vows to correct with the top medical specialists possible.
Now Pacquiao has to figure out something else complex: What to do next.
It took all of a few minutes for Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum to admit Marquez was entitled to an immediate rematch in May. After getting as much as $10 million for this bout — dependent upon pay-per-view income — Marquez is positioned to get at least that again.
But does Pacquiao really want any part of Marquez again after three tight wars?
Oscar De La Hoya, who helps promote unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr., said the time has come for Pacquiao to be more assertive in choosing his own path, not leaving it entirely up to his promotional team.
"My advice to Manny is, 'You're the fighter. You're the boss. You call the shots,' " De La Hoya said. "If Manny wants Floyd, there's nothing from stopping that fight from happening.
"Pacquiao fights for the people and the people want him to step up and fight Mayweather."
Arum said it's "absolutely" Pacquiao's right to decide his next step. Pacquiao only said late Saturday that he believes Marquez deserves a rematch.
And that's true, too.
"I'm happy about my performance, but I don't know what I did need to do to change the minds of the judges," Marquez said after the fight. "I'll sit down with my family and make a decision about continuing in this sport or simply retire.
"I really believe I have to drop [Pacquiao], but even if I drop him, I get the feeling they'll stand him back up and give him the fight again. I am very frustrated right now."
Marquez trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain called the decision "a joke."
Heard often after Saturday's bout, however, was the conclusion that if Marquez could make Pacquiao's life so difficult, imagine what Mayweather (42-0) would do.
"People can keep comparing Pacquiao and Mayweather, I don't care," Arum said. "If you want to say Manny's diminished by this, go ahead."
A lot to consider for the now former top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun