LAS VEGAS – J.B. Mauney was sitting on the floor in the back of of the stock contractor’s lounge on Friday night when it was his turn to pick during the Round 4 bull draft.
Calmly, but confidently, Mauney just said, “Bruiser.”
There wasn’t a glare into a television camera or a confident strut off the shark cage as when Mauney would challenge the likes of World Champion Bulls Bushwacker, Asteroid, or SweetPro’s Long John during Built Ford Tough Championship Rounds.
He didn’t pick Bruiser to brag or boast, instead it was because he genuinely believes if he wants to be remembered as the greatest bull rider of all time, then he better go ride the toughest bull in the pen.
Even though Mauney had already clinched the 2015 world title, the 28-year-old put an emphatic slam dunk on his 2015 season by riding Bruiser for 92.75 points – the 64th 90-point ride of his career – the next night.
“Unless you show up and perform, and do what you are supposed to do, your words don’t mean nothing. To be the best, you have to ride the best, and that proves it.”
In fact, that is Mauney’s goal before he one day finally decides to retire from the sport.
Mauney, who believes he can ride up to five more years potentially, knows exactly where he wants to be when it is all said and done.
“I want my name to be right there at the top,” he said. “That is why I do this. I love doing it, but I want to ‘be the best at it. I want to be right there at the top of those record books. I want people to remember me for who I am,” Mauney said. “Hopefully for being one of the greatest bull riders ever. One that lays it all out on the line every time. It doesn’t matter whether he is sitting first or last, he puts it all out there every single time.”
Mauney is one step closer to that goal following his march to a second gold buckle this season.
He went 39-for-66 (59.09 percent), won four Built Ford Tough Series events, led the BFTS with six 90-point rides and posted 11 Top-5 finishes, as well as 11 Top-5’s.
Mauney missed five events this season because of a torn left ACL and it appeared he would fall out of the world title race.
However, Mauney overcame one of the most serious injuries in professional sports to win four events and erased Joao Ricardo Vieira’s 1,662.5-point lead.
Mauney took over the world lead in Thackerville, Oklahoma, with a second-place finish and never let go of it.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy finished 2,082.5 points ahead of No. 2 Kaique Pacheco.
Mauney now sits alongside fellow PBR legends Adriano Moraes, Silvano Alves, Justin McBride and Chris Shivers as the only five riders in history to win multiple championships.
It is an illustrious group and Mauney knows how important the second gold buckle is.
“Winning a second world title, that kind of puts you down in history,” he said. There are only so many guys that have only won two world titles and I would like to win more than just two. Winning two, you accomplished the dream when you are little winning one. Accomplishing it twice, there is really no words to describe it.”
McBride said Mauney’s second gold buckle officially puts him in the conversation of being one of the all-time greats.
“It is big,” McBride said. “We go from talking about J.B. being this really good World Champion bull rider to one of the greats. Not only had winning a second title propelled him to that, but everything he has done along the way. He rode Bushwacker, Asteroid all of those great bulls. “He picks Bruiser because he loves to ride rank bulls. He understands his job as a bull rider is to do whatever he can to win first place every time he gets on. It is a mentality. It is a way of life.
“Putting a second World Championship with all of that definitely seals his place in history.”
Earlier this year, Mauney rode 2015 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John for 92.25 points, which was his highest-scored ride prior to Friday’s effort on Bruiser.
Immediately after he threw his cowboy hat into the air following his ride on Bruiser, Mauney turned around to a congratulatory nod of the head from Shivers, who was working as the in-arena safety man.
“Guys like that, that are past World Champions and were great bull riders, and you get there approval, that is what it is all about,” Mauney said. “That is what means the most to me. You got guys that have done that for a living. (When) they take your hat off for you, you have done something right.”
Shivers won his two world titles in a span of four years, while Mauney accomplished it by winning two of the past three titles.
Shivers said midway through the Finals, “I know how J.B. feels. To win two world titles, that means that first one wasn’t luck. He gets on the rankest bulls and he makes the best of it. He isn’t afraid to step up to the plate and take one when everyone else is trying to dodge them. There are very few guys that can get the rank ones rode and he is one of them.”
Mauney rode Wicked Stick for 91 points to win Round 1 of the Finals on Wednesday night.
During the ride, Moraes was cheering his heart out for Mauney.
“I thought due to his physical condition, he would never win a second title,” Moraes said. “I am glad I am wrong. I never doubted his riding ability, but just his health. He is 28, but some guys at 28 are puppies. He is like an old dog. His body is all messed up. He is a mess physically. But he has the desire and the determination. He knows he can win and that is why he is winning.
“He is, no doubt about it, the best bull rider right now,” Moraes said. “He is hotter than heck. He won’t buckoff. What amazes me is how aggressive he is. He is superior. We are lacking that in many of the riders. He is there to win. If he has a chance to pick the bull, he is going to pick the bull.”
His second World Championship makes him the richest bull rider in Western Sports history, but he knows to be the best of all time it will take more than a certain amount of dollars in a bank account.
It is all about the gold buckles.
“That is just a number,” Mauney said. “The gold buckles mean more than anything.”
He now has two of them, and he isn’t ready to call himself the best yet.
“The gold buckles, yeah that is nice and you can wake up every morning and see that gold buckle hanging around your belt and know you accomplished something,” Mauney said. “No one remembers 10 years ago. In this sport, you have to keep proving yourself over, over and over. Every week is a new week and you have to go prove yourself.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.