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Warren Nabs Triple Crown

Biggest question mark going into the 2012 Arnold Classic was, "Could Branch Warren bounce back from surgery on his right quad last August in time to be on stage to defend his ASC crown?" The 5’6 1/2", 245-pounder from Texas, forced to miss the Olympia last year, answered that query with a resounding "Yes" Saturday at Vets Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio, with a unanimous victory at the ASC ($130,000), nabbing the "Most Muscular" honor for the sixth time…and even stashing away another 10 grand by being named the winner of the "Most Entertaining Posing Routine."

The results nearly mirrored the 2011 winner’s list, with Dennis Wolf again finishing behind Warren, and Evan Centopani, fourth in 2011, moving up to third this time around. Last year’s third-place winner, Victor Martinez, did not compete due to personal problems. Ben Pakulski, who gets my "Most Improved" award for the first part of 2012, was at his all-time best en route to a fourth-place finish. Dexter Jackson, fifth last season, duplicated that position this year, while Lionel Beyeke, coming off his victory over Pakulski at the FLEX Pro two weeks earlier in Santa Monica, CA, rounded out the top six.

Although Warren got straight one’s from the judges, there were a lot of people who disagreed with the decision. Wolf had his legion of supporters, although I don’t feel Dennis was improved over his conditioning last year; IRON MAN Publisher John Balik felt Centopani deserved the title. "Centopani didn’t have the holes in his physique the others had," says Balik in the wrap-up video soon to be up on the site that I did with JB and Dave Liberman minutes after the contest ended. Dave agreed with the magistrates in this one, saying Branch was the clear winner because of his thick, dense muscle, coupled with good conditioning, that Wolf WAS better than last year, and that Even was a solid third.

Brandon Curry finished seventh, Shawn Rhoden eighth, Michael Kefalianos landed in ninth and Eduardo Correa rounded out the top 10.

Check out the complete results, and thousands of Roland Balik photos, on the site.

2012 Arnold Classic

1. Branch Warren ($130,000)
2. Dennis Wolf ($75,000)
3. Evan Centopani ($50,000)
4. Ben Pakulski ($30,000)
5. Dexter Jackson ($15,000)
6. Lionel Beyeke ($10,000)

7th through 14th: $2,000

7. Brandon Curry
8. Shawn Rhoden
9. Michael Kefalianos
10. Ed Correa
11. Fouad Abiad
12. Ben White
13. Gustavo Badell
14. Matthias Botthof

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