Toney Freeman squeaks past Dennis James in Tampa

by Allan Donnelly

August 9, 2008


After going blow for blow for most of the morning’s prejudging, Toney Freeman and Dennis James, separated by the slimmest of margins, were forced to carry on their battle well into the evening on Saturday night at the Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships. When the dust cleared, a mere three points separated the two, with Freeman emerging as the victor and James relegated to yet another loss by the narrowest of margins.

Both Freeman and James came into Tampa with much to prove: Freeman, that he could regain the form he displayed in early 2007; James, that he could turn back the clock even further, to 2003, when he placed fourth at the Olympia in his best-ever showing. And while neither was able to get completely there, both came close, and the result was the most dramatic and closest 1-2 finish of the 2008 season.

Toney Freeman displays his winning form

After the prejudging it was James, not Freeman, who held a two-point lead. The drier and more conditioned of the two, James had only to hold off Freeman to secure career victory No. 2. But Freeman steadily improved as the prejudging wore on, and by the end of the morning it was clear that both would have to earn this one in the finals. In the end, Freeman continued to improve throughout the night show and it was enough in the eyes of the judges to tilt the scale in his favor.

Runner-up Dennis James

David Henry (third), Darrem Charles (fourth) and Fouad Abiad (fifth) rounded out the top five. For callouts and comments from the Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly prejudging with Bob Cicherillo, check the FLEX Forums.

1. Toney Freeman (31)
2. Dennis James (34)
3. David Henry (58)
4. Darrem Charles (84)
5. Fouad Abiad (106)
6. Tarek Elsetouhi (85)
7. Flex Lewis (98)
8. Jaroslav Horvath (135)
9. Marcos Chacon (145)
10. Quincy Taylor (165)
11. Frederic Sauvage (169)
12. Paul Baker (174)
13. Mark Dudale (181)
14. Roc Shabazz (198)
15. Bob Weatherall (212)

Go here for galleries from the 2008 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships

David Henry recovered some of the luster he lost in May when finishing second at the New York Pro, storming to a win in the 202-Pound Class. Henry wasn’t at his all-time best, but his thickness and quality muscle was enough to compensate for his lack of conditioning in some areas, particularly his hamstrings. Henry’s win here, combined with his solid third-place finish in the open class, puts him back on track as one of the favorites – along with Kevin English, who beat Henry in New York – at the 202 Showdown on Olympia weekend.

202-Pound Class Winner David Henry

Twenty-four-year-old Flex Lewis made his professional debut a successful one, placing behind Henry as the runner-up in the class. Lewis, who turned pro by winning the light heavyweight class and overall at the British Nationals a year ago, possessed the best lines and structure in the class. Once he adds some front-to-back thickness, Lewis will be a force to contend with in any class he enters.

202-Pound runner-up Flex Lewis

Jaroslav Horvath came out of nowhere to place third and grab the third and final qualification handed out in Tampa for the 202 Showdown. For most of the prejudging, it appeared as if Roc Shabazz and Lewis were battling it out for second and third. At the end of the night, though, it was Horvath who slipped into the top three.

1. David Henry (20)
2. Flex Lewis (40)
3. Jaroslav Horvath (74)
4. Tricky Jackson (69)
5. Roc Shabazz (72)
6. Steve Namat (83)
7. Mike Valentino (109)
8. Khalidi Almhsinawi (111)
9. Guy Ducasse (125)
10. Daron Lytle (155)
11. Jeff Long
12. Nathan Wonsley
13. Pablo Arevalo
14. Raul Carrasco
15. Vonne Francis

Go here for galleries from the 202-Pound Class at the 2008 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships

Nicole Ball notched her second professional win in just three contests. Ball, a second-year pro who earned her pro card at the 2006 Canadian Nationals, adds the hardware she won in Tampa to the trophy she won when winning the lightweight class at the 2007 Atlantic City Pro.

“Atlantic City last year I wasn’t expecting anything, just because I was a new girl and had nothing to prove,” Ball said. “This year, this morning, I don’t think I was in it 100 percent because now they knew who I was and I felt like I had something to prove. So I just felt like I wasn’t with it. Tonight I just decided to bring it.”

Women’s winner Nicole Ball

M&F Lab Rat #4 “On the Road workout”

The two wins, combined with her eighth-place finish at last year’s Olympia, are a signal to Ball that the judges are moving in a different direction and rewarding tighter, more feminine physiques over sheer size.

“With no weight classes in this contest, I think the judging panel is going more towards the more compact physiques. This is about as big as I’m going to get. But for the last nine shows I’ve placed fist in all except for the O, so I’m not complaining!

Klaudia Larsson (second) and Debbie Bramwell (third) also earned Olympia qualifications.

1. Nicole Ball (28)
2. Klaudia Larson (53)
3. Debbie Bramwell (64)
4. Kim Perez (54)
5. Wendy McCready (63)
6. Annie Riveccio (86)
7. Claudia Partenza (113)
8. Beverly DiRenzo (129)
9. Guisy Caputo (132)
10. Carla Salotti (134)
11. Tonia Moore
12. Mary Ellen Jerumbo
13. Mercedes Bazemore
14. Nicole Pfuetzenreuter
15. Irene Anderson

Go here for Women’s Bodybuilding galleries from the 2008 Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships