By: Justin Felisko
November 02, 2016
LAS VEGAS – Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray glanced to his left and looked at two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney on Tuesday afternoon and said, ‘You like big moments. Why?’
Mauney replied, “I don’t know. The pressure? If someone tells me I can’t do something, then I am going to come in swinging.”
The 29-year-old has accomplished almost everything he possibly can in the PBR as he embarks upon his 11th consecutive Built Ford Tough World Finals on Wednesday night at the brand-new T-Mobile Arena.
Mauney’s World Finals resume is long.
He is one of five riders to win multiple world titles, he has won the prestigious World Finals event title twice, he has earned the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award six times, which is given to the rider with the highest ride score at the Finals, and he leads all riders competing at the Finals this week with 16 90-point rides and 15 round wins in Las Vegas.
So what is keeping the reigning World Champion just as hungry as the two 22-year-olds – Cooper Davis and Kaique Pacheco – that are trying to join Mauney and become the 16th different rider to earn the right to call themselves a World Champion?
What is it that he CAN’T do at this point?
“Well, there has only been a couple of three-time World Champions,” Mauney admits during his Tuesday media session with the CBS Sports Network production team.
Adriano Moraes and Silvano Alves are the only three-time World Champions in PBR history.
CBS Sports Network lead commentator Craig Hummer then joked, “You can’t repeat as World Champion.”
Mauney lets out a sly grin.
He is very much aware of the fact that Alves is the only rider to have repeated as World Champion in the PBR’s previous 22 seasons.
“I have been wanting to do that,” Mauney firmly states. “The goal for this year is to win it. The goal for next year is to win it next year.
“There has never been anybody that has won four.”
Four world titles.
That is what James Burton Mauney is after at this point in his bull riding career. The all-time leader in career earnings and PBR superstar is at a point where father time and injuries may be creeping up on him, but the Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy continues to be a force and is certainly one of, if not the, favorite to win the 2016 PBR World Championship.
Alves, who has the utmost respect for Mauney, is the only active rider to have kept Mauney from winning back-to-back titles in the last five years.
He says repeating as World Champion is one of the hardest challengers in the PBR.
“It is very hard,” Alves said. “For me, you just have to stay focused and concentrated on the World Champion each year. You have to stay straight. It is mind and mental. You concentrate on riding your bulls and that’s it.”
That is exactly what Mauney’s game plan is heading into his Round 1 matchup against Valedictorian Wednesday night.
“Stay on. That’s the plan,” Mauney said.
Fans can watch all of Round 1 on CBS Sports Network, which begins at 9:30 p.m. ET with the B&W Trailer Hitches Inside the PBR Finals pre-show, as well as on PBR LIVE.
Mauney is only 677.83 points behind world leader Pacheco.
A round win at the World Finals gives a rider 300 world points. Winning the event average, which Mauney has done twice before, awards a rider 1,500 points.
One of his non-gold buckle goals way back in January was to become more consistent. His riding percentage (56.92 percent) is the fifth-highest of his career.
Mauney is 37-for-65 this year and leads the PBR with a 56.92-percent riding average. He also concluded the regular-season with the most 90-point rides (6), BFTS round wins (15) and 15/15 Bucking Battles (3).
Has 2016 been a success so far?
“Well, no,” Mauney quickly replied. “I am not sitting first, right? I rode decent. Some people say I pick smart, but for me I pick stupid. I picked the bulls I thought I could ride to win the event instead of picking the ones that make me try and make me ride. As long as I pick bulls that make me ride, like Stone Sober, then I always ride better.”
Now he gets to get on five, and likely six, of the rankest bulls in the world.
That should be a benefit to Mauney.
So too is Las Vegas. Mauney thrives with the glitz, the glamour, the money and the best bulls in the world.
“Oh yeah,” Mauney said with confidence. “I like the pressure. I like the moments. I like it, especially here because the best bulls are going to be here.
“I am ready.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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