By Jake Donovan
The challenge for Victor Ortiz following last week’s debut on Season 16 of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ was to knock the judges’ socks off.
The former welterweight titlist fell short of that goal during his Week 2 performance, though not without giving it a championship effort and also seeking validation from at least one judge.
“I want to ask. Did you bring an extra pair of socks,” Ortiz asked judge Len Goodman, following his jazz performance, danced to Bruno Mars’ ‘Runaway Baby.’
“It didn’t knock my socks off,” Goodman informed the boxer, who placed the request last week. “If you’re going to knock anything off of me, I’m glad it would be my socks.”
Ortiz’ second televised week on the reality dance series garnered a score of 18 out of a possible 30 points. The total matched his Week 1 effort, giving him a combined score of 36 points. The two-week total places him in a four-way tie for 8th place among the 12 celebrities this season.
Comedian/actor D.L. Hughley is in the cellar with 28 total points (16 on Monday night after scoring a season-worst 12 points in Week 1), while Disney star Zendaya is on top with 50 out of 60 points. Her scores of 24 last week and 26 on Monday served as the high score for each week.
This week’s session was preceded by difficult times behind the scenes for Ortiz, as revealed through footage of rehearsals with Lindsay Arnold, a professional dancer in her first year on the show.
The time together included a now-or-never ultimatum from the dancer on Saturday, reminding her celebrity partner that the show was coming in two days, whether he was ready or not.
Performing fourth in the evening’s lineup, Ortiz was as ready as he was going to be.
The judges recognized the effort, but still want to see more as each issued him 6 out of 10 points.
“It had energy and it had fun. But it wasn’t a knockout for you,” Goodman stated. ““Your feet came in and went out. It could have been sharper, it could have been cleaner. It was a full on jive, which I liked. But because you attacked it, it became scruffy. It wasn’t neat.”
Goodman is generally the most critical of the three judges, but the entire three-person panel offered similarly harsh feedback this week.
“Victor, my darling, you went at it like a runaway train. Not even Denzel Washington could have stopped you,” noted Bruno Tonioli, starting with the good news before getting to the critical part of his feedback. “But stylistic points go out the window. Parts of it looked like a Zumba dance.”
The footwork exuded by Ortiz was the focus of criticism from all three judges.
“Your feet are wide apart when your legs have to be under you,” Tonioli continued. “The kicks and flicks have to be precise. You have to point your feet and feel the beat. Don’t go through the beat. Your bum sticks out like an overhang and you have to keep that under you. All of those things need to be sheltered. Just keep it under.”
Carrie Ann Inaba tried her hardest to sympathize with the boxer and reward him for effort, but in the end fell in line with her peers.
“Sometimes I like to give bonus points just because someone is having such a good time,” You worked this really hard,” commented Inaba. “But when I look down and watch your feet, I realize I can’t give those bonus points. You’re on the right track, though.
“If you keep attacking like that and keep that charisma and a close up, which is a ten (referring to his handsome looks). You just have to get your feet working.”
Ortiz’ fans will now have to get their fingers working if they want to keep the 26-year old on the show beyond Tuesday night, when the first contestant will be eliminated from this season’s competition.
While his dancing ability still leaves a bit to be desired, his boyish charm continues to shine through. This was never more evident than during the moments preceding the judges’ scorecards being revealed, when he owned up to not holding up his end of the bargain during dance rehearsals.
“As hard as it may be to believe, I felt bad because I’m not a bad person. She just works so hard and it weighs on me sometimes,” Ortiz explained when asked about the behind-the-scenes drama. “I know she wants the best of me, but sometimes I feel like I can’t deliver.
“It’s so frustrating, I feel bad for her for having to put up with me. Ultimately, I was like ‘I’m such a rude person. What’s up with me?’ I just have to keep ‘Vicious’ at home,” Ortiz concluded, referring to his boxing side.
‘Vicious’ has been kept out of the ring since last June, when the welterweight suffered a broken jaw that forced him to bow out after nine rounds against Josesito Lopez. The fight rated high among the biggest upsets of 2012, and also marked his second straight knockout loss. He previous defeat caught much greater fanfare, when he was knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in four rounds.
Ortiz scored 18 points in last week’s season premiere, giving him a two-week combined total of 36 points. The total is three points lower than the two-week tally amassed by Mayweather during his run in Season 5 way back in 2007.
Both fighters paled in comparison to Laila Ali’s run as a semifinalist in Season 4, the only boxer in the show’s history to register a perfect score of 30. Ali accomplished the feat three times, all coming in the final two weeks of the season before settling for third place.
Regardless of how Ortiz fares come Tuesday evening, his performances are light years better than that of Evander Holyfield. The former cruiserweight and heavyweight king proved to have two left feet during his brief stay in the very first season of the show in 2005.
The fate of Ortiz and the rest of the show’s participants is based on a combination of total weekly points and fan voting. Fans wishing to vote for Ortiz can do so by three different means: calling the toll free hotline at 1-800-VOTE4-02 (1-800-868-3402); texting “Vote” to 3402 (limited to AT&T mobile subscribers); or going online to Dancing With the Stars’ voting page on ABC’s website .
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox