Brian Bullman's 2009 Tampa Pro Review: Dennis James Wins!

It was over a decade in the making, but Dennis James finally scored a victory on home soil. All in all, the 2009 Tampa Pro was just as much of a success as last year's rendition.


Dennis James Wins!

It was over a decade in the making, but Dennis James finally scored a victory on home soil. Not too long ago Dennis, Richard Jones and I chilled out over breakfast and spoke about how hard it must have been for Dennis to have gone so long without a win, especially having played bridesmaid to The X Man, Toney Freeman, on more than one occasion last year.

Dennis said that it would be so sweet, just to have that one win on American soil, not only for himself but for his family, friends and of course all of his U.S. based fans. He said that if he nails his conditioning, there is nobody that could beat him. That statement came to fruition when victory finally came his way this last weekend in Tampa Florida, some 8 years after his only other IFBB Pro victory.


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Dennis James At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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James came into the show looking like his usual huge self, and his conditioning was the best it has been in years. He has been criticized in the past for allowing his midsection to grow out of control, but he seems to have rectified that by bringing in a more streamlined, V tapered look. His combination of mass, symmetry and conditioning were just too much for any of the other competitors to handle.


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Dennis James At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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It has always been said that if Dennis James can step onstage looking like he looks in those famous tank top photos from the internet, he would be Mr. Olympia. Now, with no fewer than six weeks to go to the big show, this might be his best chance. He has already set his sights on next week's Europa Super Show in Texas, and is looking to improve on his conditioning from last weekend's win.


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Dennis James At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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2nd Place: Fouad Abiad:

    Fighting James all the way was the young gun, Fouad Abiad, who took second place and earned himself an invite to Mr. Olympia for the second time in his professional career. He came in much improved, displaying a much more complete physique. He was thicker, fuller and better conditioned than his last outing and his muscle maturity is really starting to come through now. Should he improve on his conditioning by September 26th, I think there should be a few worried faces on some of the seasoned veterans of the IFBB.


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Fouad Abiad At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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3rd Place: Ben Pakulski:

    Third place went to rookie pro, Ben Pakulski from Canada. The former Canadian Super Heavyweight Champion had the best professional debut any rookie could ask for and went home with an invite to this year's Olympia.


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Ben Pakulski At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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4th-5th Place: Bill Willmore & Ben White:

    Ben's young physique had too much mass combined with balanced conditioned muscle for IFBB veteran, Bill Willmore, to deal with and Willmore was relegated to 4th place. He will have to wait for the Europa to try and earn one of those coveted Olympia invites. Rounding out the top 5 was Ben White.


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Bill Willmore & Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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View More Pics Of Ben White Here.

    As you can see, my predictions for 1st and 2nd place were spot on but where was Johnnie Jackson? I guess fatherhood is taking its toll (only joking Johnnie). But mark my words; look out for Johnnie in Dallas and most certainly Atlantic City!!!


202 Championships

Also taking place was the Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Tampa Pro 202 Championships, and for me, this is where the magic happens. This is a division designed for athletes, like myself, who are not the tallest in school. Also, this is where the more aesthetic physics can have a chance to shine. It seems my British neighbors have come to the same conclusion, as both John Hodgson and Lee Powell were amongst the last men standing.


1st Place: David Henry:

    Reigning 202 Olympia Champion, David Henry, was unstoppable again. Even without his Olympia winning conditioning, his balance, symmetry and thick round muscle were just too much for the rest of the field to deal with.


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David Henry At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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2nd Place: John Hodgson:

    Following David in 2nd place was British bodybuilder John Hodgson, who came into the contest SHREDDED. Hodgson has been on the IFBB circuit for some years now, always there or there-abouts, making the top 15 at several shows, beating out the bigger men. But this division suited him down to the ground or in this case up onto the stage. Hodgson is heading back to England with an invite to the Olympia for the first time in his career. I had predicted Hodgson would be battling for 3rd place with Tricky Jackson, but he came in and blew the competition away.


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John Hodgson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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3rd Place: Lee Powell:

    Following John onto the winner's podium was his fellow country man Lee Powell, who I had predicted would be battling with Dave Henry for the winner's check. But alas it wasn't to be, however he still has an Olympia invite in his back pocket. Should Powell nail the conditioning he will surely be a force to be reckoned with in Las Vegas; his balance and symmetry are second to none. It looks like John and Lee's trainer, former British Champion; Neil Hill has a few secrets up his sleeve, as he has become British bodybuilding's "go to" guy.


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Lee Powell At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
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    Last year, Flex Lewis burst onto the 202 scene with a 2nd place finish, a victory and finally, a top 3 finish at the Olympia 202 Showdown. It seems his mentor, Neil Hill, (although Flex told me that Neil was more his tormentor than mentor, but I don't want to be starting anything here so I'll say no more on that) is the man to talk to if you want to get that Olympia qualifying physique. From the looks of things, the Olympia 202 is going to be the battle of the Britons. But who will it be, Hodgson, Powell or Lewis? I guess we will just have to wait until Vegas to find out.

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Conclusion

All in all, the 2009 Tampa Pro was just as much of a success as last year's rendition. The crew over at Pro Bodybuilding Weekly and their partners have pulled off another great bodybuilding weekend, giving the east coast a little taste of the IFBB's finest athletes. Bodybuilding fans from around the world have had their fix of the world's finest physiques, that is, until next week when the world of professional bodybuilding will converge on Dallas Texas for the Europa Super Show.