The 2023 Mr. Olympia contest is approaching fast, prompting bodybuilding veteran Samir Bannout to discuss top talent heading to Orlando, Florida. In a recent Old School Labs Podcast, Bannout predicted Andrew Jacked would finish in the top four at the upcoming contest.
Having turned Pro last March, it didn’t take long for Chinedu “Andrew Jacked” Obiekea to turn heads within the IFBB Pro League. His symmetry, imposing height, and statue-esque physique guided him to a pair of consecutive victories when he claimed gold at the 2022 Texas Pro and Arnold Classic UK. From there, Jacked entered his first Mr. Olympia and finished eighth in his debut.
Andrew picked up where he left off last year and continued to stay busy this season. He entered the 2023 Arnold Classic in March. At the competition, he showcased major improvements, courtesy of a coaching change, which saw him join forces with the late Shawn Rhoden’s former team, Chris Aceto and Chris ‘Psycho’ Lewis. The decision proved to be a calculated one as Jacked gave Nick Walker and winner Samson Dauda runs for their money in third place.
Leaving Ohio without an Olympia qualification, Jacked mapped out plans to defend his Texas Pro title earlier this month. He was successful, though endured a tough battle on stage against Hunter Labrada. As he eyes his next career outing, former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout praised him and labeled him a potential threat on the sport’s biggest stage.
Samir Bannout ‘Finds It Difficult’ for Samson Dauda to Get Quality of Andrew Jacked’s Physique
Given the improvements Andrew has displayed show to show, Samir Bannout predicted he had the ability to place in the top four at 2023 Olympia.
“I don’t like when any bodybuilder, it don’t matter who it is, when they open up their legs wide. It takes away from the beauty of the body. Look at it, with his legs together in this abs shot, it looks really beautiful. Once you open the legs too wide you’re going to lose that beautiful waist.”
“He had more striations in his chest than Hunter. His middle was cleaner than Hunter. And this is the reason why he beat Hunter, whether it was one point or five points, I like his muscle. He was nice. Like John said, he’s a big guy that actually has a pretty body.”
“Samson needs to have that kind of quality in order to really kick-ass,” added Bannout. “He [Andrew Jacked] looks bigger right here actually. In Houston, he was harder and a little bit drier, if you could tell.”
“I predict top four at Olympia this year,” Bannout said. “He’s capable of top two.”
Favoring quality and overall balance, Bannout believes Andrew Jacked’s physique has advantages over Samson Dauda’s.
“Can you read my mind? You know what I like, I like overall balance. Look, they both have a pretty body but honestly, Samson is a bad ass man. Samson if he comes in chiseled, he’s really dangerous. Let’s not bullshit ourselves. We all think may the best man win.”
“As of now, Andrew has better quality. Honestly, I find it difficult for Samson to get that kind of quality. By virtue of quality, I think Andrew would win but that – we’re going to wait and see if Samson is going to bring that kind of quality, if he does, then I won’t give you my opinion, because it could go either way. It could go either way. They are both very good.”
Even though Bannout was blown away by Andrew’s performance in Texas, he’s unsure if he will have enough firepower to stand next to Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford on stage.
“I’m impressed with Andrew he looks really good. But look, let’s be realistic here. Who does he have to deal with, Derek, and Derek is complete don’t forget that. If Derek comes in shredded and these guys are looking at humungous shredded muscle. So Derek is put together really good don’t forget that. If Andrew comes in etched to the bone, he’s going to be right there.”
“Another question to be asked is if he brings the magic, the quality. Will also Hadi come back better than ever? This is another question to be asked.”
Bannout on Hunter Labrada’s Latest Showing in Texas: ‘He Needs to Improve Lower Abs’
According to Bannout, Hunter Labrada would benefit greatly from improving his midsection, especially the lower abs. With a strong mentality, Bannout believes Labrada could better his placing on the 2023 Mr. Olympia stage. In addition, he advised Hunter to work on his lat development.
“I don’t see much difference between here and Tampa. I think he looked really good. You know, however, I think Andrew was sharper, was harder. And I agree on the middle, I think his lower abs need to – something needs to be done there. But talking about, I mean, Hunter has a very symmetrical, a lot of muscle on him, I think he could be even more chiseled than that.
But again, it’s a very tough and unexpected I think really, I told you last week, I didn’t think it was smart for Hunter to compete at that show. He should have ride the winning wave and wait until the Olympia and improve his body because that’s really going to affect his confidence somewhat. Andrew Jacked is not like a walk in the park, he’s pretty damn good very impressive,” said Samir Bannout.
“I know you said he lost by one point but still… you lose, you lose. So hopefully, he will stay strong mentally and come back to the Olympia and be better and improve. He needs to really improve that middle of the lower abs for sure. And I would actually work a little bit more on the lower lats. Hunter has a great upper back, shoulders, trapezius looked fantastic, he needs to work on the lower lats.”
This wasn’t Bannout’s first 2023 Mr. Olympia prediction of this year. Earlier this month, Bannout took a closer look at the Open lineup expected to compete in November. Given Lunsford’s momentum and potential, Bannout envisions him being the next bodybuilder to claim the Mr. Olympia title, and he believes it will happen this year.
Aside from Bannout, former eight-time Mr. Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman also believes 2023 is Lunsford’s year. Months ago, ‘The King’ predicted that Lunsford would defeat Hadi Choopan. In addition, Coleman named Lunsford as his favorite bodybuilder of the current generation.
With so many contenders after the same prize, time will tell if Hadi Choopan can fend them off to become a two-time Mr. Olympia champion. As for Bannout, he expects Andrew Jacked will be a major factor in the top four.