By Jake Donovan
Victor Ortiz made it through his first dance on Season 16 of Dancing with the Stars, making his first appearance Monday evening among a cast of 12 celebrities.
The former welterweight titlist is partnered up with professional dancer Lindsay Arnold, who is a first-time participant on the long-running reality dance show. The two performed the Foxtrot, dancing to Maroon 5’s “Daylight.”
Ortiz received mixed reviews from the judges amidst receiving a score of 18 out of a possible 30 points. All three judges awarded Ortiz 6 out of 10 points each.
“There’s a lot of things going for (Ortiz), but it was uneventful,” commented head judge Len Goodman, generally the most critical of the three-judge panel.
Feedback from the other two judges suggested plenty of potential but also a long way to go if he is to become the first boxer to claim the DWTS crown.
“What a wonderful combination of boyish charm and Latino passion,” noted judge Bruno Tonioli, though with an asterisk. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
Carrie Ann Inaba, a former Fly Girl on ‘90’s variety show ‘In Living Color’ was the most positive of the three, as is generally the case on any given episode.
“His posture was great and open and fantastic,” Inaba suggested.
Ortiz is the 5th boxer to appear on the show, which made its debut in 2005. Former cruiserweight and heavyweight king Evander Holyfield appeared in the series inaugural season, taking 5th place out of six entrants while also representing the season’s lone athlete.
Since then, athletes have enjoyed great success on the show. Prior to Season 15, which was a collection of past champions and runner-ups, athletes made for exactly half (seven) of the 14 champions to be crowned on the series.
However, none have come from boxing. Laila Ali posted the strongest showing among all boxers, taking 3rd place on Season 4, which took place during spring 2007.
The following season included unbeaten pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr, marking the only time in the show’s history in which boxers appeared in back-to-back seasons. Sugar Ray Leonard performed during Season 12, taking 9th place out of 11 contestants.
Other in-ring participants have included: former WWE star Stacy Kiebler, who took 3rd place in Season 2, despite scoring a perfect 30 on her final dance; and UFC’s Chuck Liddell, who came in 11th place out of 16 candidates during Season 9.
Mayweather’s appearance was a stroke of marketing genius. Fresh off of his split decision win over Oscar de la Hoya – which still serves as the highest grossing fight in boxing history, Mayweather used the show as means to promote his Dec. ’07 pay-per-view showdown with Ricky Hatton.
His run on DWTS didn’t last long; he was eliminated in the fourth week of competition while placing 9th overall out of 12 participants.
Mayweather also received an 18 during his first week of competition, with the feedback along the same lines as that given to Ortiz. The two obviously share a far more familiar bond, as Mayweather knocked out Ortiz in the fourth round of their infamous Sept. ’11 pay-per-view headliner in Las Vegas. Much debate came of the fight, in which Ortiz and his handlers (including de la Hoya, his promoter) insisted he was sucker punched as a result of in-ring confusion allegedly caused by referee Joe Cortez.
Ortiz has only fought once since the Mayweather fight, with the end result every bit as disastrous. The popular Mexican-American was ahead on the scorecards in his June ’12 bout against Josesito Lopez, when he was forced to quit after nine rounds due to a broken jaw that later had to be wired shut.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer announced earlier this year that he expects Ortiz to return to the ring sometime in September. If the time frame holds true, he will have been out of the ring for 15 months, and having fought just twice in two years following the Mayweather bout.
On the upside, however long he is able to last on the show this season will not at all interfere with any planned training camp. Ortiz’ score of 18 lands him tied for 8th place along with country diva Wynonna Judd and reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump (‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ on Bravo). The status of the show’s contests is based on a combination of score total and fan voting.
Whether he goes the distance and wins it all or is sent packing next week, Ortiz is taking the same devil-may-care attitude as he does in his everyday walk of life.
“At this point in time, I’m just here to have a lot of fun with everybody,” Ortiz noted during Monday’s episode, though also providing his long-term goal this season. “I mean I’m definitely winning it.”
The first celebrity to be sent home will take place during the results episode on Tuesday, March 26. Each contestant will be given a second chance to add to their totals during Week 2, in which participants will have to perform the jive or the quick-step.
This week’s choices were the Foxtrot, Cha-cha-cha and Contemporary, the latter marking its first-year inclusion. Ortiz performed the Foxtrot, along with Vanderpump, Sean Lowe (‘The Bachelor) and actor/comedian Andy Dick. Ortiz and Vanderpump both scored 18; Lowe managed a dance-high score of19, while Dick scored just 17 points.
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