He was perhaps the hottest bodybuilder on the professional circuit for most of 2005, and part of 2006. But oh, how things can change in a year. Fortunately for Branch Warren, they can change back again.

Ending a streak of disappointing finishes, Warren fought off a tough trio of competitors to win the New York Pro by the narrowest of margins over Dennis James at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on Saturday night. At the end of the night, just four points separated the two competitors. Even more surprising was the fact that Warren seemingly won the contest in the posedown, a feat that is rarely achieved. Heading into the posedown, Warren trailed James by a 30-27 margin. Dennis Wolf, rookie Desmond Miller and Silvio Samuel rounded out the top five.

James held the lead after the afternoon’s prejudging by a 14-22 margin. In fact, after the prejudging, the gap in the battle for second between Warren and Wolf was closer than the battle for first. But the judges saw something at the evening finals that helped Warren pull away from both James and Wolf to claim the title in the Big Apple. “I’ve competed against Branch four times now,” a disappointed James said. “He beat me two times but at the Olympia I beat him by far. For me it was disappointing because I wanted to come in and win a show in America one time, and it just didn’t happen.”

The win was Warren’s third as a pro. He won the Europa Super Show and the Charlotte Pro, then followed that up with a runner-up finish at the Arnold Clasic in 2006. Things began to sour for Warren after that, however, as he missed the top 10 at last year’s Olympia and finished 8th at his last contest, the Arnold Classic, in March. But those placings are now a distant memory after his big night in New York.

After being overlooked during his first attempt at competing in the States in 2006, Germany’s Wolf is finally getting his due. Even though most had Wolf finishing at least one spot higher, the second-year pro’s third-place finish was greeted with the loudest boos from the audience. Wolf still needs to add thickness and width to his back and improve in order to hang with bodybuilding’s elite, but the 28-year-old is well on his way to becoming a top-tier pro. Miller, making his professional debut, finished fourth and in the process qualified for the Olympia. Samuel continued his recent streak of top-five finishes in his fourth contest of the year.

Kai Greene, the biggest surprise at the contest, narrowly missed out on an Olympia qualification by finishing sixth. Green won the “Best Arms” award at the show.

2007 New York Pro Finals Placings

1. Branch Warren
2. Dennis James
3. Dennis Wolf
4. Desmond Miller
5. Silvio Samuel
5. Kai Greene
7. Craig Richardson
8. Brian Chaimberlain
9. King Kamali
10. John Sherman
11. Francisco Bautista
12. John Hodgson
13. Frank Roberson
14 Leo Ingram
15. Milton Holloway
16. Lionel Brown
16. Gennaro Brigante
16. Steven Burke
16. Emro Karaduzovic

2007 New York Pro
Competitor List and Gallery Links

1. Branch Warren

2. Craig Richardson

3. Dennis James

4. John Hodgson

5. Lionel Brown

6. Genarro Brigante

7. Steven Burke

8. Dennis Wolf

9. John Sherman

10. Milton Holloway

11. Brian Chamberlain

12. Silvio Samuel

13. Leo Ingram

14. Desmond Miller

15. Francisco Bautista

16. King Kamali

17. Emro Karaduzovic

18. Kai Greene

19. Frank Roberson

Men’s Comparisons Gallery 1

Men’s Comparisons Gallery 2

Men’s Evening Show Gallery 1

Men’s Evening Show Gallery 2

Men’s Evening Gallery 3