2007 Sacramento Pro Men's Finals

We're in the midst of the men's finals, third round posing routines. Based on prejudging, this show is going to boil down to a battle between Ironman champion Toney Freeman and Spain's Silvio Samuel. Meanwhile, fighting for third place and an Olympia qualification are Hidetada Yamagishi and Ahmad Haidar, with already-qualified Marcus Haley in the mix as well. Best of the posing round thus far are Marcus Haley, who infused some pop-and-lock dance moves into his hip-hop infused routine, and Rusty Jeffers, who is a throwback to the classic era -- he puts a lot of energy and thought into his routine and it shows. Silvio is up ... Lonnie Teper just announced that Samuel got an invite to the Arnold next week. Very well deserved. Silvio is living proof that you sometimes just don't know who's going to emerge in the pro ranks ...last year, he was a guy who showed some potential but could never quite peak for a show. Now he's a guy who could win the Sacramento Pro and no one would blink an eye (well, except Freeman, who is hoping he can add a third IFBB title to his mantle). Former NPC National light-heavyweight champion, Atlanta's Roc Shabazz is up. While Roc hasn't had a lot of luck yet as an IFBB pro (his best showing thus far was 8th at the 2006 Australian Pro) he's a grade-A personality with a lot of fans. Hopefully he can make the improvements he needs to contend for a title down the road, it would be great to see. Next year, it was just announced the Sacramento Pro will be held March 8, the week after the Arnold, in the same venue, the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento. That's the same timeframe it was held last year (when it was the San Francisco Pro). Italy's Daniele Seccarecci is up. He's off on this night, but he did have a rousing routine to My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade." Continuing the international run, Russia's Sergey Shelestov is up. He showed a lot of promise in the 2006 Romanian Grand Prix, finishing behind Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler. He's harder than he was at the Ironman, but still not there yet. He's got potential -- and he can do the splits, for what it's worth. Joel Stubbs, he of the awe-inspiring back, is doing his routine. He may have gotten a little tighter since prejudging. It's so unfortunate that a leg injury holds back his lower body development, because his upper body is simply awesome. He's Mr. Olympia caliber from the waist up. Clifton Torres from Hawaii is on stage. Unfortunately for Torres, he has not gotten tight enough either this week or at last week's Ironman. A bantamweight as an amateur (he won his class at the 2002 Nationals to earn his pro card) to make a dent as a pro he needs to be absolutely shredded. He'll have to hit the drawing board before his next show. Last up is Hidetada Yamagishi. Like Silvio, he's been working with Milos Sarcev, and his improvements have been vast. He was very good last year at the Ironman, but this year he should be contending for an Olympia qualifying spot. Personally, I would give the nod to Ahmad in third for a more aesthetic package, but Hide may indeed prevail and take third when all is said and done. I haven't seen a scoresheet, but I would guess it's a close margin between the two -- and Haley could potentially be ahead of them both. Soon we'll know, as we're about to go into the fourth and final round, where they bring out the top five for one last comparison.

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