The 2012 Europa Hartford Battle of Champions was a very good show with an extremely competitive top five but with less talent after that spot. This was Juan Morel's second contest and he won the whole show and is now qualified for the 2012 Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas. Check out the results and full contest report below:
Juan is a relatively new pro who won his pro card by winning the super-heavyweight class and overall at the 2011 IFBB North America Championships. Juan's only other pro show thus far was the 2012 New York Pro where he placed 4th. Juan added some size on his frame at this contest and was in better condition at around 245 pounds although he looks much bigger. He has very broad shoulders and a wide back and still has a lot more potential for mass. I am quite confident that Juan will eventually compete in the 260-280 range as he is only 30 years old right now and has a lot of time to improve. Juan also has a small waist and a great structure for bodybuilding.
Moe was in great condition at this show and as a result placed 2nd. I used to think that Moe did not look good in the back poses but after this contest I now suspect that is simply a matter of his posing. I think he was unable to spread his lats in a way necessary to show them off and here in Hartford his lat spread looked very good so he seems to have overcome that limitation. Last year at this contest, Moe placed 11th and he was very disappointed and I personally felt he deserved a higher placing than that. I am very happy with Moe's outcome at this contest and I think he has the potential to win a pro contest and qualify for the Mr. Olympia.
Essa has a great structure and is very full and round. At this contest I felt that he looked great but he looked better at prejudging than he did at finals and as a result was relegated to 3rd place because Moe Bannout improved between the two rounds while Essa regressed. Essa could have been 2nd and will be competing next week at the 2012 IFBB Chicago Pro show. Essa won the 2010 IFBB Europa Supershow and qualified for the 2010 Mr. Olympia but did not compete in it that year. I think that Essa will easily qualify for the Mr. Olympia again and will most likely be a mainstay at the contest. He is a very high-caliber competitor as long as he brings his conditioning to any given contest.
Fred smalls is a very good bodybuilder and is extremely thick. I think his conditioning at this contest was good but it held him back and put him in 4th place at a contest that he had the potential to win. I do think there were some very good bodybuilders ahead of him but for the most part, those bodybuilders were all in better condition whereas Fred was a little off. Not substantially off, but in a good lineup like the one here, it was enough to put him in 4th. Fred is thick and has a huge chest and lots of room on his frame for mass. I should also point out that his conditioning was pretty good at this contest but he could have been just a touch harder and had he been, I think he would have placed higher. This is by no means a disappointing finish for Fred who looked good and achieved a good placing in a very good lineup.
I saw Renaldo in Toronto where he placed 8th and I thought that he looked great but the judges clearly felt that he looked better here in Hartford because he placed 5th in a more competitive lineup. Renaldo's vascularity is amazing and some of the best in the bodybuilding world. The main critique for Renaldo is that he has room for a little more size on his frame because he is relatively tall for a bodybuilder at 5'10 and competes around the 230 range when he can be somewhere in the 240-260 range. But Renaldo is also still very young at only 32 and really has the next decade to improve and gradually add size. As it stands now, he is already a big bodybuilder and gradual improvements in mass take time and I am quite confident that Renaldo will be able to make those improvements while maintaining his incredible conditioning and vascularity which I really feel is among the best in the pro ranks.
Jamal Ahmed Elmadawy was a bodybuilder who I admit that I had never heard of before this contest. Jamal was in good condition but lacked the size relative to the bodybuilders who beat him to place higher than he did. Conditioning was not the issue as said, but rather size. In time, Jamal will gradually add more mass and improve his placings and I am unsure what his weight was at this contest, but I wonder how close it was to 212 pounds. If it is within 10 pounds of that, I think that Jamal should give some consideration to the 212-class because I think he will do quite well there and potentially win a contest. With that said, placing top six at a very good open bodybuilding contest is pretty impressive and I think he can also stay in the open class if he wants to.
Jeff Long is another bodybuilder like Fred Smalls who had the potential to either win this show or improve drastically in the placings had his conditioning been better. Jeff is a thick bodybuilder and size has never been the issue with him. He has come in before in great conditioning like at the 2009 NPC Nationals where he won the heavyweight class. He has not quite replicated that conditioning since but if he did I think he would definitely be a force at any given contest. I think that Jeff's back and shoulders look particularly conditioned. His shoulders show impressive feathering and his back is pretty hard relative to some other places. In his most muscular poses he has a tendency to look slightly soft but he has been harder before and no doubt will be again. I think that Jeff will be a pretty consistent top 10 finisher at any given pro contest but can move up to the top five if he comes in a bit harder. Jeff's thickness impresses and despite being so young  really has no more need to add size to do well as a bodybuilder. From here on out, it will just be a matter of dialing it in which is a good thing because many pros still need to add size to do well in bodybuilding but Jeff is not one of them. I am sure that he will gradually improve with age given that he is still young.
Adorthus Cherry has a great structure and the only real limiting factor for him is his pec tear which detracts in certain poses, the front lat spread in particular I find. I think that Adorthus can overcome that as long as he is in condition and poses in a way to hide the pec tear as best as possible. At this contest, Adorthus was off and it cost him in terms of the placings. It seemed to mostly be an issue of holding a film of water as his body fat was clearly very low and I think if he does plan to compete at the IFBB Chicago Pro next week that he can be ready for that contest if he stays on his diet and drops 5-7 pounds of water. I definitely think he is within reach of great conditioning but just came in a little off at this contest which put him in the 8th spot where he could have otherwise been fighting for a top five spot. I am happy to see Adorthus still compete despite the pec tear as many other bodybuilders have become discouraged after such an injury and retired from bodybuilding.
Alexandre is another very thick bodybuilder and he was in pretty good condition at this contest although I saw him in better condition at other contests such as the 2011 Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships and the 2011 New York Pro. With that said, I still think he looked pretty good here and I was slightly surprised to see him place 9th when a few of the bodybuilders who beat him were clearly off conditioning-wise when Alexandre was not at his best, but not notably off in my view. I think that perhaps Alexandre's thickness is being held against him as he is big all around I suppose looks blocky in some poses.
Greg placed 3rd at the 2012 Toronto Pro SuperShow and I was greatly impressed with his look at that contest where he clearly nailed it. His coach George Farah said that Greg tore his vastus medialis ["teardrop"] as a result was holding water at this contest. It's unfortunate if that happened to Greg and hopefully he will be able to recover. Whatever the case may be, his conditioning was a little off at this contest and it made a drastic difference in Greg's look and relegated him to the tail end of the top 10. I hope that Greg can recover because I seriously felt that he had a chance of winning a pro contest and qualifying for the Olympia and it is too bad this setup has happened.
Hennie Kotze looked quite good and he is another bodybuilder who I had not heard of before this contest. I'm not really sure that I can point to anything specific about Hennie other than to gradually keep adding size. I felt that his conditioning was quite good and that it must simply be a matter of size which prevented him from doing a bit better at this show. He looked particularly shredded, particularly in the hands on hip most muscular variations where his chest striations were very clear. Like Jamal Ahmed Elmadawy who placed 6th, I would wonder how close he is to 212 pounds as the 212-class may be a viable option for him as well.
Mark Antonek looked pretty good but just lacked the general refinements and overall size to place higher at this contest. I thought that his physique looked pretty good and almost one that I would want myself but I should point out that many bodybuilders who fans want to look like lack the size necessary to be competitive in pro bodybuilding at the top level and I think that was the case here. Mark is by all rights a big man, but compared to someone like Juan Morel, the disparity in size is pretty obvious. Mark is 47 and looks amazing for his age or any age for that matter!
Randy Reittinger was simply lacking the overall thickness to place higher at this contest. His conditioning was pretty good and his biceps seemed to be standout, but he would have to make some improvements in general size to place higher. His back looked pretty good in the rear double biceps pose but some overall increases in size will do him very well at future contests.
This was a pretty good contest overall although I think the top five and all the rest were drastically different. Based on the top five, this was a very good contest and what would appear to be a very high quality show. Outside of the top five, I think the quality dropped off dramatically and it was really night and day. A lot of the bodybuilders outside of the top five were not in condition and could have drastically improved had they been and others lacked the overall size to do well at this show. The top five were all impressive enough to really knock my socks off and I think that they really made this contest so overall I can say this was a pretty good show and I look forward to the Europa contests in the future.
All photos are property of RXMuscle.com taken by bodybuilding photographer Jackie Buckley and can be viewed HERE. For more of RXMuscle.com's excellent photography, please visit the website. Also, be sure to check out RXMuscle.com's other content.