Second-place finisher Branch Warren stopped to talk for a few minutes between the routine and posedown rounds:

Is this your best condition yet for a pro show?

Yes, by far. I’m the biggest, most cut I’ve ever been. I brought the best package to the stage I ever brought.

Do you think you have what it takes to win this?

Absolutely. I never trained for a show in my life I didn’t think I was capable of winning. The way the callouts went, I think it’s me and Dexter. We’ll see what happens.

If it doesn’t?

Then next week I go into San Francisco. And the next week I go into Australia. I’ll just continue to improve.

Have you changed anything preparation-wise from last year to this year, or do you think you’re just finally coming into your own?

I’m just coming into my own. As you get into your early 30s, your body begins to change and mature. I haven’t changed my training philosophy since I was 18 years old. I train hard, I train heavy. Every contest I get ready for, I evaluate the pictures. That’s what I did from Olympia until now, I looked at the pictures, know I could have been a little crisper, a little sharper.

You really look at your photos?

Absolutely. That’s the only way you’re going to get better. You have to be honest with yourself. Every bodybuilder knows where their strong and weak points are. If someone complains they got fifth place and they think they should have won, deep down inside you know whether you deserved fifth place or not. Everybody knows what they’re weak points and strong points are. The difference is the ones who realize that and go out and do something about it.

You were recently married.

Yeah, I got married on Christmas Day to Trish Mayberry, now Trish Warren. We’ve known each other about six years. Got married at my sister’s house back in Texas, a very small family wedding. I’m going to compete in Australia, then take about a week and we’ll do our honeymoon (there).

Darrem Charles should have definitely been in the top sixth, but fell to eighth. Here’s what he had to say.

Is this another example, like the Olympia, of you not getting the early callouts?

I don’t know man, it’s tired, story of my life. This is my life, my career, what I work so hard for, and think I constantly keep coming in better every show, in shape every show, and think I’ll get the respect I deserve. I’m a bodybuilder, I’m not saying I train harder than any of these guys, we all train hard to get here, but the point is, whoever is in shape that day should get the right callouts. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but it is what it is and I can’t do anything about it. I was very happy with the package I brought today, I came in nice and tight, my balance is there, I think I’m matching up. I think I should be in the top five.

What’s your frustration level?

I’m always focusing on improving my body. The judges are going to do what they do, I’m going to do what I can do. I’m going back and trying to improve some more. Where getting the callouts is concerned and frustration, it is what it is. I just go out there and do the best I can. A lot of people get down when they place back of where they should be, but it keeps me motivated to improve even more, to step on stage and prove all the critics wrong. I’m motivated to head back to the gym, do my homework, come back in May and just blow everybody away.

What’s your weight?


Are you happy there?

I was definitely where I wanted to be at this particular show. Do I have weak points to bring up? I do, everybody has weak points. I’m going to go back and work on everything. I still need to thicken up a bit more. I’m a perfectionist, so there’s a lot of stuff that I personally want to improve myself as a bodybuilder.

Mustafa Mohammad reportedly got into a heated discussion, mostly in German, with Arnold Schwarzenegger backstage after being unhappy with his placing. (Apparently he didn’t realize Schwarzenegger doesn’t actually judge the contest, or the fact that seventh was perhaps a few places too generous for his condition in the first place.) He’s now made a habit of these rants, as he unleashed similar verbal assaults on AMI chairman David Pecker backstage at the 2005 Olympia and Ironman magazine owner John Balik at the Ironman Pro this February. It seems that after a contest, Mohammad either ends up in the hospital or in an argument.

Johnnie Jackson said an error in his carbohydrate consumption led to him missing his mark at the Arnold. “I just ate white rice (before the show), at the Olympia I did sweet potatoes and I was so much fuller,” he said. “I told Tom (Prince, his contest advisor) I need to eat more and he said [not to]. I’m mad at myself for not doing it anyway.” Jackson plans to rectify the error when he competes at the San Francisco Pro March 11.