2003 NOC Preview And A Look Back At The Orlando Pro.

Dan Solomon takes a look back at what happened at the 2004 Florida Pro Challenge and an exclusive preview at the 2004 Night Of Champions! Who will win?
May 16th, 2004! - Previous News

Wayne DeMilia...

Wayne DeMilia has had his hands full in recent weeks. The widely publicized IFBB shakeup has been the source of industry-wide speculation. While most of the reports have come from less than credible sources, it is simply impossible to ignore the reality that changes appear to be on the horizon.

Pro Muscle Online and Bodybuilding.com have opted not to comment on these developments… until all sides are heard from.

In the mean time, DeMilia is planning his annual New York City bodybuilding blowout. The 26th edition of the Night of Champions will get underway this weekend (May 22nd).

A Look At The Contenders

Darrem Charles: After his victory in Orlando, Darrem was the first to admit that he was not at his best. Darrem indicated that some adjustments will be made to ensure a much harder physique. He explained "I'll be much sharper in New York. I was pleased to win the Orlando show, but I will be extremely prepared for the NOC. I'm saving my best for New York. I'll be ready."

Pavol Jablonicky: The only returning member of last years NOC Top 5. Supreme conditioning makes him a factor in any show he enters, although you have to wonder how long he can continue to carve out his place among the top guys. Well rested, this will be Pavol's first event since last year's NOC.

Art Atwood: Usually the biggest guy on stage, Art's Achilles heal is his inability to compare favorably in the glutes, an area that pro judges hold in a very high regard. Art's chest is massive, but very over-powering. Symmetry and structure will make it very hard for him to win this event, however, his massive overall size will be well received by the mass-adoring New York fans.

Melvin Anthony: Marvelous Melvin has the potential to do damage in New York, however, its worth mentioning that his conditioning fluctuates from event to event. Melvin brings a nice balance of size and showmanship to the stage. Always a tremendous performer, Melvin should land somewhere in the money.

Ahmad Haidar: Presented his all-time best in Orlando, narrowly falling short of his first pro victory. Ahmad showcased improvements, mostly through his back. Often penalized for his lack of overall arm size, he will need to be hard as nails if he plans to do damage at the NOC.

Nasser El Sonbaty: The days of finishing 2nd behind Dorian are a long, long time ago. Name recognition alone will not be enough to win this event. Nasser will be standing among several top conditioned athletes. It's been a long time since Nasser has presented a package worthy of top billing. Bring your cameras… this could be your last chance to see one of the true legends.

Richard Jones: His mug has already graced magazine covers… before he even stepped on a pro stage. Talk about high expectations! Often compared to Shawn Ray, for obvious reasons, there is little question that Richard's future is bright. HOWEVER, don't expect a victorious debut for the rookie. Under the bright lights, Richard will likely fall short on dense muscle maturity and detail. His physique is indeed "pretty", but on the pro stage it takes far more than nice lines and symmetry. Give him another year to carve it out.

Others to keep an eye on include Craig Richardson, fresh off his Top 3 finish in Orlando. George Farah, Johnny Jackson and Mike Morris should also be considered dark horses to snag an "O" qualification. As a reminder, the Top 5 will secure a spot on the Olympia stage.

Who Do You Think Will Win The 2004 Night Of Champions?
Darrem Charles
Pavol Jablonicky
Art Atwood
Ahmad Haidar
Pavol Jablonicky
Nasser El Sonbaty
Richard Jones
George Farah
Johnny Jackson

A Look Back At The Florida Xtreme Pro Challenge

When the 27 athletes walked on stage for pre-judging, one thing was loud and clear. The two Florida hometown boys were not about to let anyone else spoil their backyard party. Darrem Charles and Ahmad Haidar both journeyed to the inaugural Orlando Xtreme Pro show by car on less than a tank of gas.

It didn't take long to realize that the night belonged to the Sunshine State Sultans of Symmetry. Darrem showcased his classic chiseled condition, full muscle bellies, and masterful presentation. Meanwhile, Ahmad's physique might best be described as "breathtaking".

His abs are extraordinary and his lines are brilliant. But in the end, the judging panel awarded Darrem for his ability to achieve a slightly harder overall look. Specifically, Darrem's striated quads separated him from Ahmad enough to snag the victory.

For Darrem, the win was his 3rd professional conquest. He has now won a pro event in each of the past 3 years... but perhaps even more important for Darrem and his growing fan base, he proved once again that you don't have to be 275lbs to win on a pro stage.

Prior to pre-judging, I received a call from Dexter Jackson, who was in Pittsburgh for a guest appearance. Dexter was particularly interested in my feedback on a virtually unknown Craig Richardson.

Dexter was keeping close tabs on Richardson after helping him prepare for the show. Since earning his pro card at the 2000 NPC Nationals, Richardson finished 16th in his only prior professional event (2003 Night of Champions). In Orlando, Richardson snuck past the field and landed in the #3 spot. Yes folks, Craig Richardson is qualified for the Olympia.

A well conditioned Willie Stallings and a massive Art Atwood rounded out the top 5.

On Friday evening, I paid a visit to Craig Titus in his room prior to the athletes meeting. It looked as though he would be presenting something similar to what earned him a top 6 finish in Columbus.

Just 19 hours later, Craig stepped on stage at pre-judging holding a damaging layer of water that relegated him all the way down to the 7th position. It was Craig's 4th event of the year and it now appears that a 2004 Olympia qualification is out of reach.

Results - Top three qualify for the Olympia.

Place Name Country 1 2 3 4 Total
1 Darrem Charles Trinidad 7 7 6 5 25
2 Ahmad Haidar Lebanon 8 8 9 10 35
3 Craig Richardson USA 16 19 18 18 71
4 Willie Stalling USA 24 18 18 17 77
5 Art Atwood USA 24 22 24 25 95
6 George Farah USA 32 31 34 97
7 Craig Titus USA 30 37 44 111
8 Mike Morris USA 44 42 38 124
9 Garrett Downing USA 54 39 37 130
10 David Henry USA 50 52 54 156
11 Jason Arntz USA 52 55 55 162
12 George Turmon USA 67 67 63 197
13 Quincy Taylor USA 58 73 68 199
14 Idrise Ward-El USA 73 68 65 206
15 Jimmy Canyon USA 68 74 71 213
16 Rodney St. Cloud USA 74 78 152
17 Thomas Stellander Norway 78 80 158
18 Jose Alves Jorge France 79 80 159
19 Mohammed Anouti Lebanon 80 80 160
19 Omar Borrelli USA 80 80 160
19 Charles Duca Spain 80 80 160
19 Ken Jones USA 80 80 160
19 Rod Ketchens USA 80 80 160
19 Christian Lobarede Chile 80 80 160
19 Erwin Marquez Venezuela 80 80 160
19 Ntuk Ntuk Nigeria 80 80 160
19 Gianrico Pica Italy 80 80 160

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Until next time...