By Jake Donovan
Seventeen months after getting drilled by Floyd Mayweather Jr., Victor Ortiz outlasted his ring conqueror on the dance floor.
The former welterweight titlist barely survived Week 4 of Dancing with the Stars, landing in the bottom two of competition but deemed safe for next week’s competition as the celebrity dance show sent home reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump.
Both performers tied for the lowest score of the week – each scoring 18 out of a possible 30 points – but Ortiz moves on to Week 5 due to greater fan vote.
Ortiz performed the Paso Doble – the same dance that sent Mayweather packing during his appearance on Season 5, way back in 2007. The performance wasn’t quite on par as his efforts last week, when he received high praise from all three judges. Monday night saw Ortiz back to his Week 1 and Week 2 scores of 18 out of 30 from the judges, whom appreciated his effort, if not his technique.
“You definitely punched the living daylights out of the Paso Doble. But the thing is now, you’re supposed to dance it, not destroy it,” noted judge Bruno Tonioli. “You went for it, but you went wrong. You missed your footwork, you messed up your Spanish line. It’s not always attack, attack, attack, This Paso Doble is very specific in style. I know you can do it. I know you got the talent. I hope you come back because I know you can do it.”
Ortiz performed the routine with professional dance partner Lindsay Arnold to the tune of Queen’s timeless classic ‘We Will Rock You.’ The theme for the week was to pick a song that identified with a key year in your lifetime. The southpaw went with 2011, the year in which he hit boxing paydirt.
“We chose this song because that was the song that was playing when I won the WBC welterweight championship of the world,” explained Ortiz. “According to promoters, reporters, I didn’t have any chance at all. I saw an opening and hit him on the chin. Boom!”
The pre-dance segment – which aired during Monday night’s live telecast – recalled the proudest moment of Ortiz’ career to date.
“Going into the fight broke, nothing to my name. Just being in that precise moment was beautiful. It was amazing. It was all I lived for. I woke up in the morning, boxing. I went to school, boxing.
2011 was a very emotional moment. That’s why I picked the song I picked. I see Berto in front of me. When I picked that song, I just picture that moment. I won a world championship title in boxing, but I got another fight on my hands – me versus the Paso Doble.”
The judges critiquing the dancers treated Ortiz’ performance as if they were scoring a fight, fitting since it took place in a faux boxing ring complete with the fighter in full boxing gear at the start of the routine.
“When you dance, what comes out of here (facial expression) and here (heart) is so powerful. You’re so committed. But what’s happening here (formation) needs a lot of work,” insisted judge Carrie Ann Inaba. “You need a lot of work on your arms, You need to work on expanding your arms and use them like you’re boxing.
“I’m gonna say that this round went a little bit more to the Paso Doble.”
Generally the most critical of the three judges, Len Goodman was perhaps the most encouraging.
“I’ll tell you what, Victor. I like your determination and I like your spirits,” Goodman admitted to the fighter-turned-dancer. “We knock you down and just like a fighter, you keep getting back up and trying even harder. The Paso Doble needed a little refinement, it needed a little shaping. But you came out and gave it your all. Well done.”
It wasn’t well enough to rank higher than the bottom or sweat out Tuesday’s results show. But in the end, it was well done enough to see Week 5 of competition.
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