by Christian Duque
First and foremost, I want to send a huge congratulations to Tonio on his big win at the third largest bodybuilding championship in the world, the New York Pro. It is second only to the Olympia and The Arnold Classic and has become a staple of the sport throughout the world. It took the place of the former Night Of Champions, but has taken on an identity all its own. This competition is run by legendary contest promoter “Big” Steve Weinberger, owner of the East Coast Mecca of Bodybuilding, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym in Syosset, New York. From its distinctive rings to the many champions, that have come from its shows, it is a title highly sought after by every competitor in the sport.
Winners of this competition have gone on to win both The Arnold Classic and the Mr. Olympia, and quite frankly generate a level of buzz unlike any other in the IFBB Pro League. It is also very, very noteworthy that a former 212 bodybuilder turned open bodybuilder was able to go into the competition and win it all. That said this competitor has made a name for himself over the last couple of years and has turned critics into supporters. I have written about him extensively both for Iron Magazine and StrengthAddicts. I have also had the pleasure of having him on Instagram Live interviews where I have been able to ask him pretty much any question I wanted, and he has always given me honest, no bullshit answers.
Tonio has been able to build quality muscle without losing his symmetry or sacrificing his condition. This is very important as his goal was never to merely do well in the Open, he wanted to excel far beyond what many of the talking heads in the sport thought he was capable of. I’ve been saying for years that The Predator was destined for greatness.
Xavier Wills of Desktop Bodybuilding has shown him tremendous support as well. In fact, Wills predicted he’d do extremely well at the NY Pro and Tonio went onto to win that highly coveted title. Still, many “influencers” are still not convinced and they never will be. In their mind maybe this is part of the 212 Exodus that’s seen guys like Shaun, Hadi, William, Derek, and Tonio make the break and opt to play with the big boys. And why not? They’re killing it!!
If we’re talking Open vs 212 it’s not even close! The Open has far better prize money, a ton more recognition, and it affords competitors the chance to compete at the (Open) Mr. Olympia. That’s what it’s all about. Every other division – including the 212 – plays second fiddle to the Mr. O. And sure, there’s Classic Physique Mr. O’s and Men’s Physique Mr. O’s, But it’s only the Men’s Open winner who gets the lion’s share of the big sponsorships and who can command huge guest posing fees. Just look at what Nick Walker is charging!! Now granted he hasn’t won the O, but he’s placed as high as 3rd and he’s won the Arnold Classic. That’s what every physique-based athlete wants and Tonio Burton is well on his way after decisively winning the 3rd most prestigious bodybuilding contest in the world on doing just that.
The big question now becomes. What will he do next? With his Olympia qualification m, if it was me, I would advise him to spend as much time as possible marketing himself as the New York Pro champion and not worrying about doing any more shows. In all honesty, any other show at this point would be a step down. Even if he won smaller shows what would the point of that be?
Tonio already has some fantastic sponsors, he has a lot of fans, and he has a growing number of media Outlets that are rooting for him and firmly in his camp. As I said, I have written about him extensively and so has Xavier as well. The danger as I see it would be for Tonio to do more shows that are not going to be as prestigious as the one he just won. While there is always the temptation of prize money and more accolades, I honestly think that he needs to hunker down and bring his absolute best to Orlando Florida come November. From here until then he will have more than enough media hoopla to bank on from this big win in New York.
I also agree with my friend Xavier in that I believe that Tonio could be in the Top Six. Xavier is more of the opinion of 6 through 10 but I really think he could actually place higher than six. I believe that if he brings his signature condition, coupled with the fact he’s put on a massive amount of size, that he could place higher. I could Burton in the top five, I could see him battling for fourth. And at that point, it’s honestly anyone’s competition. Because I have always been a firm believer that if you truly belong in the top six, you could potentially win everything.
I understand that Xavier doesn’t want to be a fan boy and doesn’t want to go out on a limb and say that Tonio could win everything based on his victory in New York but I honestly think that if anyone believes a bodybuilder can make it legitimately into the Olympia Top 6, that that bodybuilder could win everything.
I’m curious what you, the readers of IronMagazine, have to say. This is exactly the kind of article that I would invite you to post on your social media feeds as it will generate tons of conversation. The fact of the matter is Tonio is a guy that does not like to be overlooked and who has proven himself time in and time again. He has a reputation for being a legitimate contender for the top titles in the sport and for never being out-worked by anyone!! By winning the third biggest title in bodybuilding he has cemented himself as a true contender for the 2023 Mr. Olympia title in Orlando, Florida.
Only time will tell what the future holds. But from where I’m sitting, the future looks bright for The Predator! Congratulations Tonio on your huge win. I’m sure there’s going to be many more in the future for you.