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The final two callouts of the prejudging and the night show were arguably the most exciting and perplexing. First up:
But then there was Juan Morel posing down next to Mamdouh Elssbiay. This one left many in the audience scratching their heads. Wasn’t Big Ramy—even a Ramy at what his coach Dennis James called 85%—the clear winner, destined to defend the title he captured last year? Sure, Morel looked great, and his condition was better than Elssbiay’s. But, like last year, there was just so much of Big Ramy on the Tribeca stage. Were the judges playing up the drama and giving the audience their money’s worth? Or was there an upset in the making?
No one else was resting on his laurels. Steve Kuclo, originally slated to compete in New York, won the Arnold Classic in Brazil, attempted to save a woman who died of cardiac arrest on the flight back to the States, and skipped the Big Apple shindig. If Beyeke, somehow delegated to a controversial fourth in Brazil, came into the New York Pro in shape, he would have a chance to redeem himself with the New York fans, who are never shy about letting the judges know how they feel about a competitor’s placing. A conditioned, grainy Branch Warren won his sixth pro contest in Dallas a week before and therefore skipped the NY Pro, a show he won seven years ago. Fouad Abiad, second in Dallas, dropped out of the NY Pro the week of the contest due to gallstones, and last year’s sixth-place finisher, Anthoneil Champagnie, had dropped out weeks earlier after a biceps injury.
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Like the city it’s held in, this year’s New York Pro had a truly international flair. From South Africa to Kuwait, from France to Hungary, of the top 10 competitors, seven had to hop international flights to compete. The other three are originally immigrants or children of recently arrived immigrants.
The 43-year-old Muscovite has seen better days on this stage (ninth in 2009). Shelestov’s thighs seemed to be down in size this year.
Although nowhere near as massive as some of the other men, this AustralIan Former farm boy has a very pleasing physique reminiscent of Pavol Jablonicky’s. He’s got the overall look a lot of guys who get into weight training want to emulate. He’s good enough to match his placing here from last year, but if Demetriou wishes to fare better against this caliber of competitor, he will need to accrue more overall size, with special attention to leg mass and thigh sweep.
Many felt he should have been compared to the top five here and in Brazil (where he was sixth). The South African has a crisp look to his physique, with a dramatic differential between his wide shoulders, tight waist, and quads that fare dramatically at mid-thigh. Each muscle group was clearly and cleanly delineated. Dohne looked amazing for a man who announced his retirement from professional bodybuilding in 2012 following purported health issues.
This 44-year-old, who holds dual Greek and Australian citizenship, is known for his conditioning, yet today he just didn’t have it. When he’s off, what Kefalianos lacks in natural shape and structure becomes apparent and he is relegated to the middle of the pack. This is a man who works hard—a taxi driver in Australia, he carries his food in the cab—so expect him to redeem himself in the near future.
The Hungarian who earned his pro card at the 2011 Arnold Classic Amateur was massive and conditioned from head to toe. However, his blocky frame—including a thick waist—held him back from placing any higher. After finishing 13th here last year, this contest marked a real improvement for the 31-year-old.
One of the taller competitors onstage, Juan continues to grow into his frame, yet it is a frame that can carry even more muscle. And more muscle, especially in his lower body, is what he’ll need to hang against Elssbiay and the top tier in future contests. That said, Morel’s structure, conditioning, and size hint at a future Olympia top-six placing if he continues to improve.
A true beast
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On the scorecards it wasn’t close, but from the audience’s perspective it seemed like they were fighting tooth and nail. Coming of his first pro victory at the Dallas Europa, Guy Cisternino brought his size and hard-as-nails conditioning up against Arnold Classic 212 third-placer Aaron Clark. Both men were in great condition: shredded, hard, and grainy. The judges went with Clark, placing Cisternino second. The thickest, most-muscled man on the 212-stage, Iran’s Baito Abbaspour used his massive quads to carry him into third. Marco Rivera clenched his jaw and gritted it out as abdominal cramps visibly wracked his physique in the prejudging and was glad he did: He slipped past an impressive Curtis Bryant to take fourth.
1. Yeshaira Robles*
5. Lacey DeLuca
* Qualified for 2014 Bikini Olympia
1. Jason Poston*
* Qualified for the 2014 Olympia Men’s Physique Showdown
Juliana Malacarne now has three New Pro championships under her belt, as she successfully defended her title.
1. Juliana Malacarne*
* Qualified for the 2014 Olympia Women’s Physique Showdown
Camala Rodriguez won the Fitness class at the NY Pro back in 2011. Winning the Figure division this year, she chalked up her sixth win as an IFBB pro.
1. Camala Rodriguez*
3. Laurie Green
* Qualified for the 2014 Figure Olympia FLEX