The bodybuilding season marches on as competitors prepare for another busy weekend. In a recent Rx Muscle interview, Lee Priest predicted which bodybuilders are most likely to walk away with gold at the 2023 New York Pro.
Over the last six months, the Men’s Open division has changed dramatically. At the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest, mass monster Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay failed to repeat as champion. Instead, Iranian-born Hadi Choopan claimed the title after outlasting contenders Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker in the finals.
With a new Mr. Olympia champion looking over the category, fans’ attention turned to Columbus, Ohio for the 35th annual Arnold Classic. Once again, Walker was in the running to win but was narrowly defeated by Samson Dauda.
Considering Choopan, a former 212 bodybuilder, was able to win the Open title at Mr. Olympia, some in the sport believe the division is shifting to favor shape and conditioning over freak factor. And while the season has remained somewhat quiet since Dauda’s victory, that is about to change at the sport’s third most prestigious contest this weekend.
Lee Priest Names Tonio Burton & ‘Beef’ Stu Sutherland As 2023 New York Pro Favorites
Having assessed Tonio Burton‘s physique, Lee Priest shared that he was impressed with the athlete’s shape, muscularity, and conditioning, adding that he could ‘definitely win it.’
“Yeah, I think I just saw some photos, he’s the one that has the tattoos on him doesn’t he? Yeah, I’ve always been impressed when I’ve seen him with his shape, muscularity, and conditioning I’ve sometimes seen him in.
I think he popped up on Instagram this morning he was doing a lat spread or something . Like I said, he looks great. Just the proportions and what he has, he has one of those physiques where he’s going to look so much better on stage, the illusion of the round muscles and the shape. He can definitely win it,” said Lee Priest.
Before looking at other contenders, Priest was taken aback by the lack of big names participating this weekend.
“Back in the day, remember the big names that would turn up at those shows, it was always the Olympia, the Arnold, and the Night of Champions, now the New York Pro, those were good shows and if you wanted them, they were a good win. Like I’ve said before, a lot of these pros sit out so many shows where they could fuc**ng win them if they turned up in great shape.”
Priest dubbed Maxx Charles as a dark horse given his consistent ability to enter shows with great conditioning.
“The thing about Maxx, I like Maxx, I think I’ve seen him in a few shows,” said Priest. “There’s a few shows I’ve seen him in. Like last year, where I thought he should have placed higher than he should have than he did I mean. His conditioning is generally on point. He can, like I said, it’s going to be one of those things, you don’t know till the day.”
In addition to Burton, Priest anticipates ‘Beef’ Stu Sutherland fighting for gold. He explained that Stu managed to hold his own against Hunter Labrada during a guest-posing event earlier this year.
“I could see him being, he could win or be top three easy from the names so far,” Priest shared. “Wasn’t there a guest posing a while ago where he was posing next to Hunter Labrada and he held his own.”
While some in the community had hoped for bigger names in the 2023 New York Pro, Priest believes it’s exciting because there’s no clear winner leading up to the contest.
“We don’t a lot them but that still makes it exciting like I said, because there is no clear winner. Watching this show is going to be picking the winner as well with the judges. There’s nothing worse than you go, ‘Okay the judges are going to put him first he always wins.’ Make it exciting that way. Even for the competitors too, they must know.
It sounds bad when you say there’s no big names in it, like there’s no good bodybuilders, because these guys competing are great bodybuilders. You know what I mean, back in the day, it had to be like those names, like Kevin Levrone, it was like, ‘Oh, Kevin was going to win.’ Even for the guys competing in this show, they’re probably all going in it with the mindset, ‘Shit any of us can win this.’ There’s no standout person here. It probably makes them try harder.”
Before making his New York Pro debut, Stuart Sutherland joined Fouad Abiad on a recent Bro Chat episode. He was happy there wasn’t a ‘bunch of studs’ performing this weekend and said he was feeling confident about his chances of success.
The winner of this year’s 2023 New York Pro will earn an invitation to the Mr. Olympia contest November 2-5 in Orlando Florida, where they will have the chance to face off against the reigning champion Choopan.