By: Keith Ryan Cartwright May 07, 2014@ 02:00:00 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas ― J.W. Hart knew exactly what he was doing when he matched up J.B. Mauney and Asteroid against J.W. Harris and Shepherd Hills Tested.
The 2009 Ring of Honor inductee and former rider-turned television analyst has been around bull riding and produced enough Touring Pro Division events – this is, in fact, the 15th year he’s promoted the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge – that he knew well and good the talk preceding a $25,000 winner-take-all challenge featuring the reigning PBR World Champion and a four-time PRCA title winner would be nothing short of electric.
And that’s exactly what Hart has created in the weeks leading up to the May 31 event in Decatur, Texas, which will be available to fans around the world on PBR LIVE.
“I guarantee you matching me and him against each other like that is going to make some sparks fly,” predicted Mauney. “It’s just another bull for me. I have a job to do and that’s show up and ride.”
Mauney has been something of a polarizing figure since making his Built Ford Tough Series debut back in 2006, which reached a crescendo in 2009 when he battled Kody Lostroh atop the standings for the better part of an entire season.
Lostroh wound up claiming the title and it took Mauney another four years to win a gold buckle.
Harris is no stranger to the same type of naysayers.
“That’s just part of it,” Harris said. “It’s good for the sport. That’s what keeps bull riding interesting, is you can do these things like this and everybody else knows it’s not what it looks like. It’s going to be a fun thing.”
J.W Harris puts up 87 points on Speckled Ivory in Round 2 of the DeWALT Guaranteed Tough Invitational in Nampa, Idaho.
Mauney added, “It’s either they love us or they hate us and there ain’t no middle.
“A lot of people for a lot of years said I was cocky,” Mauney continued. “I may have been when I was a little bit younger, but I’ve always said it, there’s a difference between confident and cocky. They said the same thing about J.W. (Hart) when he rode and they say the same thing about J.W. Harris now — ‘oh, he’s full of (expletive). He’s cocky and this stuff, but there’s a difference. You have to believe in yourself 100 percent if you’re doing this for a living. If you’re not then you don’t even need to show up.”
Hart, who gave Pistol Robinson 40-1 odds last year against his $1,000 bet upfront to get on Bushwacker in a challenge that originated on Twitter, knew full-well social media users would be posting their highly-charged thoughts at the idea of a challenge this year that, at least, in some ways appears to pit the PBR against the PRCA.
Mauney said, “That’s a PRCA world champion and a PBR World champion, why not?”
For as long as the PBR has been hosting events – 21 years to be exact – fans have either been divided between the two organizations or clamored for the best of both go head-to-head against one another.
Mauney won the World Finals in October and Harris followed in December by winning the National Finals Rodeo.
It’s a matchup that, for the most part, everyone has always asked for.
Hart didn’t invent the wheel; he simply found enough money for the $25,000 1,000 Miles From Home Challenge to make it happen at the Wise County Fairgrounds.
“Everybody is going to have something to say about it,” Mauney said. “They always do.”
“To me, it’s just a bunch of people that never did anything or never rode in the PBR or never made the (National Finals Rodeo),” explained Harris, who said jealousy is another reason for their comments. “They couldn’t do it and have excuses for why they couldn’t do it.”
Added Mauney, “J.W. rides good enough to be here and everybody knows that and he’s proven that to everybody who said he couldn’t.”
Like Mauney in past years, unbeknown to Harris, he’s come under attack on both Facebook and Twitter.
When he received a three-event exemption to compete at BFTS events, there were those who said he didn’t earn his spot.
They failed to acknowledge he had won four PRCA titles.
When he accepted Hart’s offer to get on Shepherd Hills Tested for a chance to win $25,000, again there were those who said he didn’t deserve the opportunity.
They too failed to acknowledge he had won four PRCA titles.
A few days later, when Chad Berger offered him a chance to get on Bushwacker in Bismarck, North Dakota, the boo-birds returned.
But it’s his appearance in Decatur that really brought about some negative chatter.
“It’s funny because the (expletive) is going to hit the fan on the PRCA side of it,” Harris said. “They have a Champions Challenge that same weekend of J.W.’s bull riding – of the match – and I’m going to turn out of it. I don’t know what it pays to win J.W.’s bull riding, but I have a chance to get out of there with almost $40,000.”
J.B. Mauney puts up 93 points on Wipeout in the championship round of the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas.
The other event Harris would have gone to only pays $5,000.
That said, Harris added, “Rodeo has been awesome to me – obviously – and it’s helped me get these opportunities. It’s molded me into who I am, but I have a chance to win money and I am closer to the end than I am the beginning. That’s just facing the facts. I’m 27 years old and I can’t do this forever.”
Nor was he going to stay on Twitter forever.
Harris previously had a Twitter account, but has deleted it.
“I just got tired of hearing all the talking,” said Harris. “I just got out of it—out of sight, out of mind.”
When told Tom Teague once likened it to a beauty shop, Harris replied, “Yeah, it’s just like going into a local barbershop or coffee shop and you get all the gossip and I’m not much of a gossip person. If you have something to say to me, come say it to my face. That’s the way I was raised and I’m not going to go talk about anybody. If I have a problem I’m going to go up and talk to them about it.”
As for the notion that there’s any sort of rivalry between the two, both riders dispelled that idea.
In fact, both Harris and Mauney – who has a Twitter account, but only infrequently tweets – often joke around with one another in the locker room and have stood together behind the chutes watching the events over the past month.
“I don’t know him well enough that there would be a rivalry,” said Harris. “He’s a great bull rider and that match, in my eyes, is not really going to be about me and J.B. It’s going to be J.B. and Asteroid and me and Tested. I hope J.B. rides his bull. I hope we both ride our bulls and we’ll let them see what they do then.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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