2012 Sheru Classic, India XXL: Men's Bodybuilding Preview

It’s bodybuilding with international flavor as the sport heads overseas after the Olympia Weekend.

The Sheru Classic professional bodybuilding showcase returns in 2012 to host a throw-down spectacle. This first-tier IFBB show is as impressively proportioned as the athletes who line its stage, and the added Men's 212 competition should make this show one to remember.

The Sheru classic made its debut in 2011 hoping to boost the profile of professional bodybuilding and fitness in Asia. The creators of the Sheru wanted to deliver top talent directly to a population comprised of citizens who had never seen professional physique athletes in live action. At the time, event founder and promoter Sheru Aangrish, along with his brother Hemanth Aangrish (who helps to run the show), stated that their contest would eventually help pro physique competition gain much-needed mainstream recognition. They seem well on their way to realizing this dream.

With cash prizes totaling $210,000 U.S. dollars, the 2012 Sheru Classic-to be held at the massive Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium-is expected to be one of the biggest bodybuilding events of all time. An estimated 15,000 spectators are expected to attend.

This year's Sheru Classic is set for October 5-6 in New Delhi, India. It promises yet another stellar lineup of the IFBB's best. Slated to compete are current titleholder Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Roelly Winklaar, Michael Kefalianos, Lionel Beyeke, Toney Freeman, Sergey Shelestov, Ben White, and Edward Nun. The men's 212 ranks will feature such luminaries as David Henry, Flex Lewis, and Jose Raymond. As expected, predicting where each of these greats will land in the final standings is no easy task, but I'm willing to take on the challenge.

Men's Open Class

6th Place /// Michael Kefalianos

When competitors such as the perpetually-shredded Michael Kefalianos are predicted to place sixth, you know for certain that the event's lineup is stacked. Compact, thickly-packed with grade-A muscle, and possessing the kind of shape that can stand toe-to-toe with almost any competitor within the IFBB pro ranks, Kefalianos is one of the more impressive newcomers. His recent win at the 2012 Mr. Europe Grand Prix confirmed his status as one to watch. He should have no difficulty making the top six at the prestigious Sheru Classic this year.

5th Place /// Toney Freeman

At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Toney Freeman and his stage-ready muscles are seldom overlooked. Freeman's second and third placements, respectively, at the 2012 Tampa Pro and Dallas Europa Supershow gave him momentum. He looks better than ever this year and is likely to place well in both 2012 Olympia and Sheru events. With awesome symmetry for such a large competitor and a waist even 212 competitors would be proud to sport, Freeman should be in familiar top-six territory. He has to come in shape, though, to achieve a fifth-place ranking.

4th Place /// Roelly Winklaar

Winklaar is another pro with massive potential. He's had an impressive year so far, yet he hasn't competed to his full potential (gym shots of him several weeks out from pro events have him seemingly more cut and massive than his stages appearances indicate). With more than 230 shredded pounds on his 5-foot-6 frame, he does not lack the size needed to dominate in the pro ranks; however, he does tend to arrive onstage having dieted off too much of his offseason mass. If Roelly can bring the right combination of size and conditioning, he should easily achieve fourth at his first Sheru Classic.

3rd Place /// Lionel Beyeke

Although he's been an IFBB pro since 2010, Lionel Beyeke had a breakthrough 2012. This year will be the first year he competes in the Sheru Classic.

Packed with dense muscle reminiscent of the old-school Bertil Fox, and complete with a wasp-waist and breathtaking symmetry, Beyeke could cause an upset at this year's Sheru Classic.

2nd Place /// Kai Greene

Placing third at last year's Sheru Classic has positioned the ever-improving and imposing Kai Greene as a frontrunner for 2012 event. Like Heath, bodybuilding's most spectacular poser has few discernable flaws. His conditioning has been holding him back. In certain shows, he has fallen short of the shredded shape expected in the IFBB pro ranks. This year all eyes will be on bodybuilding's predator as he seeks to finally win bodybuilding's biggest prize. Being among the few select favorites to win the Olympia and the Sheru can, with the added pressure to succeed, either make or break a competitor. On October 5 we will see if Greene has mastered the pressure to make his best statement yet.

2012 Sheru Classic Winner /// Phil Heath

With Jay Cutler out of the picture for 2012, Phil Heath's major Sheru Classic competition will most likely be Kai Greene. Should he arrive in top form though, there is little doubt Heath will again win. Heath's many physical attributes are so incredible that despite his relatively short pro career, he has already assumed near-legendary status. He has it all: arms, back, shoulders, legs, conditioning, symmetry, and stage presence. Heath is tailor-made for pro bodybuilding and it will take a mammoth effort to strip from him any title he holds.

Men's 212

6th Place /// Mirsad Terzo

Bosnian pro Mirsad Terzo has not had the most auspicious of elite-level beginnings. But the 2010 Juliette Bergman Classic winner can arrive in shape and has enough muscle to make the top six at this year's Sheru Classic.

With his huge sweeping lats and some truly awesome upper leg development, Terzo, with a few more years of pro experience, has the potential to go far in the 212-pound division.

5th Place /// Guy Cisternino

Guy Cisternino and his complete, symmetrical physique made their mark on the 212 pro scene. Starting strong with a top-six finish at the 2010 Europa Battle of Champions and winning the 2011 Europa Dallas Supershow, Cisternino showed he can compete alongside his division's best. In the Toronto Pro Supershow, he brought his most spectacular package yet and earned fourth place. Should he replicate this perfectly balanced, cut-to-shreds physique, the Sheru's top six is a certainty.

4th Place /// Sami Al-Haddad

The battle between Cisternino and Sami Al-Haddad for fourth place will fiercely-fought. Although both competitors are at the top of their games, I would give Al-Haddad a slight nod based upon his greater overall size and impressive showing at this year's New York Pro.

His thick layers of muscle mass and winning stage presence are the tools he needs to one day challenge the big guns David Henry, Jose Raymond, and Flex Lewis.

3rd Place /// Jose Raymond

Although he's not blessed with the spectacular shape of many in his division, Jose Raymond does have the thickest physique in his class. Raymond brought mass-monster size to the table, on a 212 frame. It's been enough to bring him a 2012 New York Pro third-place win. In order to beat Raymond, his competitors will have to bring equally jaw-dropping size and a physique that's incredibly well-conditioned. Raymond is always a favorite for 212 top honors and is guaranteed to impress at this year's Sheru Classic.

2nd Place /// Flex Lewis

Placing second at the 2011 Olympia has positioned Flex Lewis as the world's second best 212- pound bodybuilder. Of course, being the ultra-competitive man that he is, Lewis would like to claim the coveted number one spot. Should he best David Henry at this year's Olympia, he will likely win the Sheru Classic. Lewis' three first-place finishes and a raft of second- and third-place spots are the proof that he can win any show he enters. If all continues to go well for him, he'll add a 2012 Sheru Classic second-place win to his impressive tally.

2012 Sheru Classic Winner /// David Henry

Henry is probably the best competitor in this division right now. Coming off a big win at the Dallas Europa Supershow, Henry is on track for Sheru success. The U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Henry is known for his shape, size, and symmetry—really all that constitutes the perfect physique. Should he put it all together come October 5th, the Sheru Classic title will be his.