William Bonac is one of the top bodybuilders in the world. He won the second biggest bodybuilding contest — Arnold Classic USA — in 2018 and 2020 and finished second behind Brandon Curry at bodybuilding’s biggest stage — Mr. Olympia in 2019.
Bonac placed second behind Brandon Curry on Mar. 5, 2022, at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, and it has got people talking about a possible bias against the Dutch bodybuilder.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at William Bonac’s competitive bodybuilding journey over the last few years.
Bonac had not been in his best shape in the last couple of years — his words, not mine.
“We are 3 days out to prejudging and 4 days out to finals. I know many have counted me out. But that’s ok I would have counted myself out too with my last two years’ poor performances on stage. I don’t blame you I blame me!!!” — William Bonac three days out of 2022 Arnold Classic
William Bonac’s Bodybuilding Journey
Additionally, COVID-19 wreaked havoc on Bonac’s competitive career. He couldn’t defend his Arnold Classic throne in 2021 due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Although Bonac competed at the 2021 Mr. Olympia, he settled with a sixth-place finish — respectful but way lower than was expected from the former 212 bodybuilder.
Bonac is borderline infamous for his inability to double down on a strong finish. He won the 2018 Arnold Classic USA but dropped three ranks for a fourth-place finish at the 2018 Olympia. Bonac conquered the Arnold Classic USA throne in 2020 and then fell four places to finish fifth at the 2020 Mr. O.
However, bodybuilding fans should take a step back and zoom out. “The Conquerer” has placed in the top five of the 24 pro bodybuilding shows he has competed in since the 2015 Prague Pro — except his sixth-place finish in the 2021 Mr. Olympia.
William Bonac has taken the podium in the majority of shows he has competed in over the last eight years. I would go as far so to put him on the list of one of the most consistent bodybuilders of the 2010-2020 era.
William Bonac’s Runner-Up Finish at 2022 Arnold Classic, Ohio
With the 2022 Arnold Sports Festival scheduled between Mar. 3-6, in Columbus, OH, strength sports fans had a very eventful weekend. The 34th edition of the ASF featured over 20,000 athletes from 80 nations competing across 60 different shows.
We witnessed many breakthroughs and a fair share of upsets. However, nothing stood out like William Bonac’s second-place finish behind Brandon Curry in the Men’s Open division.
It’s important to remember that many people had ruled out Bonac due to his inconsistency. Additionally, fans did not know what to expect from the Dutch athlete as he was amongst the handful of bodybuilders who kept their physique under wraps until stepping on stage for the pre-judging round on Mar. 4, 2022.
Bonac revealed his physique in its full glory in the pre-judging round on Mar. 4, 2022, and, lo and behold, he shocked everyone with how he looked.
Saying that Bonac hit the ball out of the park on stage at the 2022 AC would be an understatement. He had more muscle mass, definition, symmetry, and conditioning than ever before.
Questionable Judging at the 2022 Arnold Classic?
William Bonac, Brandon Curry, Steve Kuclo, and Justin Rodriguez were in the fourth and final callout in the pre-judging round on Mar. 4, 2022, making them the frontrunners for the 2022 Arnold Classic throne.
Most fans (and even live commentators at the 2022 AC) believed that William Bonac was in the best shape of his life, and he was going to bag the gold. However, the AC judges disagreed.
It brings us to the sensitive topic of judging at bodybuilding shows. But before we dive into what could have gone wrong and why Bonac was placed second at the 2022 AC, let’s revisit William Bonac and Brandon Curry’s physiques, and compare them side by side based on the eight mandatory bodybuilding poses:
- Front Double Biceps
- Front Lat Spread
- Side Chest
- Back Double Biceps
- Back Lat Spread
- Side Triceps
- Abdominal and Thighs
- Most Muscular
Brandon Curry vs William Bonac: Pose by Pose at Arnold Classic 2022
Here is a comparison between Curry and Bonac while performing the eight mandatory poses during 2022 AC:
Disclaimer: This is my personal assessment of William Bonac’s and Brandon Curry’s physiques at the 2022 Arnold Classic. Judging physiques at a bodybuilding contest is very subjective — thanks to the current bodybuilding judging rules.
1. Front Double Biceps
The front double biceps pose aims at showing off your arm musculature. A competitor’s front lats width, quadriceps size and definition, and front calf musculature are also assessed.
Bonac has one of the best bicep peaks in the business. His forearm game is light years ahead of Curry.
Legs are Brandon Curry’s biggest weakness. They are also one of the biggest reasons he ended behind Big Ramy at the 2020 and 2021 Mr. O. Bonac beats Curry in the legs department on all fronts.
2. Front Lat Spread
Focuses on displaying your lats width from the front, along with chest thickness and shoulder width. Front arms, quads, and calf are also taken into account.
Brandon takes chest thickness and lats and shoulder width. Bonac reigns supreme in everything else.
3. Side Chest
The side chest pose displays your chest size and thickness from either side. The pose also displays your shoulders, arms, and forearm size from the side. Your quad separations and calf development will also be under scrutiny.
Brandon again takes the chest department but is no match for Bonac in any other department. The Conquerer’s bicep peak was second to none on the 2022 Arnold Classic lineup.
4. Back Double Biceps
The Rear Lat Spread conveys the width of your lats but from the rear. Additionally, the thickness of your traps, glute development, hamstrings, and rear calf musculature will take center stage in this pose.
The definition and conditioning in William’s back were much better compared to Curry.
I don’t even want to get startled about the posterior lower body. Bonac’s glutes made Curry’s rear look like that of a Men’s Physique competitor. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend on poking fun at Men’s Physique bodybuilders.
However, it is a fact that Men’s Physique athletes are not judged based on their lower body. The judges might have applied the same rules to the Men’s Open division at the 2022 AC because Bonac’s glutes and hamstring separation and striations were on another level. The Dutch bodybuilder’s calves were far superior and enhanced than the American’s.
5. Back Lat Spread
Some people refer to the back lat spread as the “money shot.” The pose shows off your arm size and separation from behind. It puts the fine details of your posterior muscles on display in their full glory.
Your glutes, hamstrings, calves, trapezius, infraspinatus, teres major, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae will be fully flexed for judges to see.
“Bodybuilding shows are won from the back.” I think this adage no longer holds weight.
Why is that, you ask?
If the back poses were really the most important, it would have been game over for Brandon Curry the moment Bonac had turned his back towards the audience.
6. Side Triceps
The side tricep pose puts your triceps up for inspection. Additionally, your shoulder and chest size along with the typical lower body size and definition are also on display.
I think William Bonac won this pose flat out. His triceps, chest, obliques, quads, hams, and calves all looked better than Curry’s in this pose.
7. Abdominal and Thighs*
The pose puts your abs, external intercostals, serratus anterior, and quadriceps up for scrutiny. It also gives you a chance to show off your upper arm and chest thickness. A competitor’s lat width and calf size are also marked.
Brandon Curry has a small and narrow waist and undoubtedly had Bonac beat in the abdomen section. He also had better lat width than The Conquerer.
But one should not rule out the thighs, which also happens to be the Dutch bodybuilder’s strong suit. I think the point Bonac lost in the midriff section, he made back in the thigh section.
8. Most Muscular
The favorite most muscular gives the competitor freedom to hit a pose of their choice that puts their overall muscularity from the front on display. In other words, it is the “show us what you got” pose.
While Curry had a little shoulder-width advantage on Bonac, Bonac had much-better muscle conditioning and striations. His arms and lower legs outshone that of the 2019 Mr. Olympia winner.
* The abdominal and thighs comparison photo is from the finals (Mar. 5, 2022), while the rest are from the pre-judging round (Mar. 4, 2022).
Brandon Curry and William Bonac Posing Videos From 2022 Arnold Classic
Check out Brandon Curry’s AC posing routine:
Here is William Bonac’s posing routine:
Things to Consider
Although explaining how scoring in bodybuilding shows work is out of the scope of this article, here are a few things you should know about before we proceed:
- Men’s Open division bodybuilders are scored in four different rounds — pre-judging, prejudging: round 1, finals: round 2, and finals: round 3. (1)
- In finals: round 3 (free posing routines – 60 sec.), 50% of the scoring is based on a bodybuilder’s routine and 50% on his physique.
- The bodybuilder with the lowest score at the end of finals: round 3 will have won the contest.
- In the 34 year history of the Arnold Classic, 2022 was the first time the Men’s Open contest took place over two days. This can be a curse or blessing in disguise and can have a big impact on the final scoring because how a bodybuilder looks over the two days can vary drastically based on what he eats and drinks overnight.
Brandon Curry VS William Bonac — Finale (The IFBB Pro Scorecard)
Here is the official final result scorecard of the 2022 Arnold Classic:
Bodybuilding shows are often won and lost by a single point. Many bodybuilding fans were speculating that the 2022 AC final result would be very close and were expecting a one or two-point gap between Bonac and Curry.
However, the IFBB scorecard showed that William Bonac lagged six points behind Brandon Curry. While bodybuilding fans were expecting a hairline difference, the gap turned out to be as wide as the English Channel.
Let’s break down the official scorecard:
- William Bonac scored 10 points in the “judging” round (pre-judging on Mar. 4, 2022) and eight points in the “routine” round (Mar. 5, 2022).
- Brandon Curry scored a perfect five in the judging round and seven in the routine round.
A look at the photos and videos above would tell you that William Bonac looked way better than Curry on the first day (Mar. 4, 2022) at the pre-judging. Even then, Curry somehow scored higher than Bonac — the difference being five points.
I’ll be the first one to accept that Brandon Curry got better on Mar. 5, 2022, and he had a better posing routine than Bonac — evident from the fact that he even won the Ed Corney best poser award and a cheque of $10,000.
Even though Curry got more conditioned and grainy during the second day and had a better posing routine, the difference between Bonac and Curry narrowed down to just one point. How do you explain this?
And if you’re wondering if I’m the only one confused about the scoring, that’s not the case. The 7X Mr. Olympia champ, Phil Heath, came in Bonac’s support and rallied the same sentiment.
A Few Other Facts About Bonac
In my opinion, the judging at the 2022 Arnold Classic was convenient instead of fair.
How was the scoring convenient, you ask?
Bonac has never defeated Brandon Curry. However, Curry has dealt the Dutch bodybuilder an upset at bodybuilding’s biggest (Mr. Olympia) and second-biggest stage (Arnold Classic USA) in the same year, 2019. Curry is one of the three bodybuilders to have won both the shows in the same year.
Curry, a previous Mr. Olympia champ, beating a former Arnold Classic champ is much easier to sell, right?
The Obvious Defence For Brandon Curry Winning the 2022 Arnold Classic
Most Brandon Curry supporters would say that Curry won because he had symmetry while Bonac only had size.
I have three things to say about this.
First, Bonac’s physique never appealed to me before he stepped on the 2022 AC stage. I say this to establish that I have no bias towards Bonac. On the other hand, I have supported Curry in virtually every contest since 2019. There is no doubt that Curry is one of the finest personalities in the bodybuilding industry today.
Second, bodybuilding is a sport of muscularity. Historically, the bigger (and more conditioned) bodybuilders have, on average, always come out on top. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, Lou Ferrigno, Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and Big Ramy.
Have you ever wondered why more symmetrical and proportionate legends like Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, and Shawn Ray never won a Sandow?
Finally, if you are caught up in the Brandon Curry VS William Bonac debate, you have got it all wrong. This debate is not about one bodybuilder being better than the other but about questionable judging practices at bodybuilding shows.
“What I saw on the video, even yesterday (William) Bonac looked like he could have won. I thought he came in… he didn’t lose anything. I thought he came in tighter and full today. And Brandon (Curry) looked about the same if not maybe a little softer. So, if they can say it was close, it was close. But looking at them side by side, pretty much every shot Bonac looked like he was a clear winner.” — Lee Priest on Bonac’s second-place finish at 2022 Arnold Classic
Final Thoughts on Bodybuilding Judging
The judging at the 2022 Arnold Classic is questionable at best, and it is time the fans start questioning how bodybuilders are scored at contests because the future of the sport depends on it.
If we want to ensure the sport of bodybuilding goes mainstream, and contests like Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic are broadcasted on popular sports networks, we need to call for better judging standards.
Just feeling sorry about our favorite bodybuilders after a low ranking isn’t going to cut it anymore. The IFBB and NPC judging processes are opaque and need an immediate overhaul.
How bodybuilders are scored in contests can change the sport. For example, if judges start marking down bodybuilders with bloated guts and make their decision open, we will see bloated guts disappear over time.
But at the same time, athletes and fans should know what the judges are looking at while scoring a bodybuilder. Scoring in no other sports functions the way it does in bodybuilding.
Would basketball be as big as it is today if fans didn’t know how many points a team got for scoring a basket? Do you think the fans would trust the system and enjoy the game if they were handed a scorecard at the end of each game and told who the winners were? This is exactly what is happening with bodybuilding, and it needs to change.
FitnessVolt will be backing this article with another piece on the current judging standards and a few ideas on what could change to make the process more accountable and transparent. Stay tuned!
- Santonja R. IFBB Rules Section 2: Men’s Bodybuilding. 2019 Edition
* Comparison photos courtesy of @bodybuilding_iran on Instagram.
* Posing videos courtesy of @npcnewsonlineofficialpage on Instagram.