David Robson's 2007 Arnold Classic Preview.

With many big names competing the judging will be a nightmare and not everyone will be happy with the outcome. This year's contest will be one of the more competitive yet.

The much anticipated Arnold Classic will once again host some of bodybuilding's biggest names come March 3. In the pro men's division, intense rivalries and potential surprises will make for an interesting and exciting time.

This far out, several questions could be asked as to what exactly will go down at the Greater Columbus Convention Centre. With such a competitive line-up, who will have the edge to make the top three? Will last year's second placed finisher Branch Warren edge out current champion Dexter Jackson, or will someone else take the title?


Click Image To Enlarge.
Dexter Jackson, Branch Warren & Victor Martinez.
View More Pics From The 2006 Arnold Classic Here.

With such a deep line-up anything can happen at this point. And where will 2006 Iron Man Pro winner Toney Freeman place? Might he edge ahead of Branch and Dexter? Of course no one can rule out Victor Martinez, a man who many consider the favorite going in this show based on his third place at the 2006 Olympia.

On paper he would have to be the man to beat. Just for good measure we also have Phil Heath, a man who won his first two pro shows, but has not been tested at the Arnold level just yet. Judging by the size improvements he has made combined with the fact he has one of the more balanced physiques, one that evidently the judges like a lot, he cannot be counted out.

Rounding out the potential top contenders is Gustavo Badell, who missed his peak at last year's Arnold and placed what was for him a dismal fourth. Comeback Legend, Vince Taylor, 2006 Australian Pro winner, Ronnie Rockel, and German mass monster, Marcus Ruhl, also pose a major threat.

With many big names competing, one thing is for certain: the judging will be a nightmare and not everyone will be happy with the outcome. But only one person can win. And judging by the depth and quality of the 2007 Arnold Classic field, this year's contest will be one of the more competitive yet. My predicted top five follow.


Top Five

1. Victor Martinez:

    The probable favorite, Victor in the eyes of many has all the tools to win the Mr. Olympia. If he can put it all together he should win the 2007 Arnold, although he will have a strong challenge in the perfect form of Dexter Jackson.

    When you compare Victor and Dexter though, several things become obvious. Although Dexter has an excellent back, Victor's is bigger and just as detailed.


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Victor Martinez At The 2006 Olympia.
View More Pics From The 2006 Olympia Here.

    With legs it is no contest: Victor has some of the best in the sport today with great sweep and the biggest calves on any Africa American competitor, while Dexter's high calves will always present a problem and his thigh's, although shapely, lack the necessary size to threaten Victor.

Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez
IFBB Pro & 2007 Arnold Competitor.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #50 - 2/27/2007
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    Dexter might have Victor beat in arms and abs, and possibly overall aesthetics, but Victor has the edge in size and his shape is among the best also. Coming off a strong third placing at the 2006 Olympia, Victor will want to make a major statement at the Arnold to again position himself among the top three at this year's Olympia. He will make his statement and he will be the 2007 Arnold Classic winner.

PRO BODYBUILDING WEEKLY
Guest: Victor Martinez
Date: 08/22/05
(Radio Show 10) - mp3 (13.0 MB)

2. Dexter Jackson:

    The favorite for the past two years, Dexter won last year, as expected, but in doing so attracted much criticism. Many felt he had made no improvements from the previous year and that second place finisher Branch Warren should have won considering he had made major changes to his physique, and thus deserved greater recognition.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Dexter Jackson.
View More Pics From The 2006 Arnold Here.

    Physique-wise, Dexter has few flaws. He has a near-perfect structure and appears to hold massive amounts of muscle on his small, for a top tier pro, 220-pound physique. With great back width, perfect abs, round, full shoulders and excellent glute/ham tie-in, Dexter will be hard to beat, for second.

Dexter Jackson
Dexter Jackson
2006 Mr. Olympia Competitor.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #28 - 9/19/2006
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3. Phil Heath:

    Newcomer Phil Heath won both the Colorado and New York Pro shows to become one of only a handful of bodybuilders ever to dominate in their first pro outings. Since then he has been considered, along with Victor Martinez, the future of bodybuilding.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Phil Heath.
View More Pics Of The 2006 Colorado Pro Here.

    He is even known as The Gift, such is his genetic potential for bodybuilding. Like Dexter and Victor, Phil has a near-perfect structure, save for what many consider to be a small chest in comparison to his massive shoulders.

Phil Heath
Phil Heath
Winner, 2006 Colorado Pro/Am Classic.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #10 - 5/16/2006
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    Having enjoyed a lengthy off-season, Phil is again ready to strike, this time with added muscle, making him even more of a threat. However, he has not been tested at the Arnold yet, and might find the waters a little deep. But if he has made sufficient improvements, these combined with his pro bodybuilding track record suggests he will secure third at the very least.

4. Gustavo Badell:

    Having missed his peak at last years event, Gustavo, who placed third in 2005, a placing he also managed for both the 2004 and 2005 Olympia's, will be looking for some redemption at this years Arnold. A massive man, Gustavo will be pound for pound one of the largest onstage.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Gustavo Badell.

    If he can bring the condition he is known for, he will at the very least place fourth. It seems the competition has caught up with Gustavo, as he will now have to contend with Victor and Phil, both of whom have better aesthetics than he. A very fierce competitor, one thing is for certain: Gustavo will fight for the highest possible placing every step of the way.

Gustavo Badell
Gustavo Badell
Winner, 2006 San Francisco Pro.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #1 - 3/14/2006
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5. Toney Freeman:

    Coming off his first big Victory against a wide field of top pros, Toney, who also won last year's Europa Pro Show, has shown he is a legitimate threat to any line-up he competes against. Standing taller than most in any show he enters, Toney, at well over 250 pounds, is usually one of the largest men onstage.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Toney Freeman.

    At the Arnold he will again dwarf almost everyone who dares to share the same stage. From all angles Toney is immense. From the back he compares to Ronnie Coleman, complete with ripped glutes and some of the best lower-back development ever seen.

    He may even place ahead of Gustavo, if the Cuban is slightly off. Look for Toney to this year cement his position as one of the top six bodybuilders in the world.

Toney Freeman
Toney Freeman
IFBB Pro & 2007 Iron Man Pro Winner.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #49 - 2/20/2007
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Fighting For Six

Marcus Ruhl:

    Marcus will be the largest man onstage and based on his great showing at last years Olympia, where he placed eighth, he will be tough to beat for sixth. With a large fan following, probably based on the shock, or freak value his physique presents, Marcus should not disappoint.

Ruhl
Click Image To Enlarge.
Markus Ruhl.

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Vince Taylor:

    A veteran of the stage, Vince Taylor always brings great conditioning along with a classy physique, complete with some of the best arms and calves the sports has ever seen.

Vince Vince
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Vince Taylor.

    Not a true freak like Ruhl, Vince relies on his great presentation and symmetry to attract the judges. He has also shown at age 50-plus, that he is still a threat to many of today's established competitors, as seen by his 11th place the 2006 Olympia.

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Ronnie Rockel:

    2006 Australian Pro winner, Ronnie Rockel, is thought to be the most overlooked bodybuilder currently competing. He seems to have it all - great aesthetics and good size and presentation - but usually places near the bottom at the larger shows. The Arnold Classic might be no exception, but he could finally get a good look in and surprise a few people.


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Ronnie Rockel.

David Henry:

    To date, David Henry's biggest achievement as a pro was his second placing at the 2006 Iron Man. Since then he has either been overlooked or simply has not made the required changes to his physique.

Henry
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David Henry.
View Pics Of David Henry At The 2007 Iron Man Pre-Judging Here.
View Pics Of David Henry At The 2007 Iron Man Finals Here.
View Pics Of David Henry At The 2007 Iron Man Press Conference Here.

    Not one of the larger guys onstage, David really needs to bring something different to capture the judge's attention it seems. He has played the size game recently as shown with his less than impressive result at the recent 2006 Iron Man, but the Arnold might just be his show to bring it all together.

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Fighting For The Top

Mark Dugdale:

    Having placed second at the Iron Man Pro, Mark says he is ready for Columbus and that top five would be great. If he can bring the shape and conditioning he brought at the Iron Man he may have every chance.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Mark At The 2006 Iron Man.
View More Pics From The 2006 Iron Man Here.

    If the judging was based on total development and conditioning, rather than size at the expense of these qualities, he would most certainly stand a chance.

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