PUEBLO, Colo. – Robson Palermo may be currently fighting to qualify for the Built Ford Tough World Finals for the ninth time in his career, but there is no denying he is one of the most dangerous riders to ever compete inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
The No. 33 bull rider in the world standings is the only three-time World Finals event winner and was a subject of conversation on “PBR Road to Vegas,” which airs tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
Host Craig Hummer, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray, PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert, two-time World Champion Justin McBride and 1994 Rookie of the Year J.W. Hart spent the 30-minute talk show discussing the prestige that comes with winning the World Finals event title.
While it is not the equivalent to winning the world title, it certainly is most prominent event a professional bull rider can aspire to win.
Murray won the World Finals title in 1999 – the first time the PBR hosted the its season-ending event at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“It is without a doubt the biggest bull riding in the world,” Murray said. “There isn’t a bigger bull riding you can win than the World Finals. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to win it.”
The fact that Palermo has won the prestigious event on three different occasions solidifies his legacy, believes Murray.
“Whenever you win the PBR World Finals three times you are without a doubt a legend in the game,” Murray said. “If Robson Palermo never wins a World Championship, he still goes in the conversation of one of the greatest bull riders of all time.”
Palermo has gone 32-for-52 (61.54 percent) at the World Finals and has seven 90-point rides and five round wins in the Thomas & Mack Center. He won the World Finals event title in 2008, 2011 and 2012.
He is one of eight riders that have won the World Finals event title that are not World Champions in the PBR’s 22-year history.
“To win it once is really hard, to win it two times is unbelievable by any standard for any bull rider, but to win it three times is incredible,” Murray said. “There are a lot of things that play into it. I think that not only shows Robson Palermo’s ability, but it shows his composure.”
Palermo, who missed last weekend’s Allentown Invitational because of a groin injury, has had to remain composed this season after being cut from the Built Ford Tough Series and then fighting his way back within the Top 35.
The Rio Branco, Brazil, bull rider hasn’t confirmed if he will be competing in the BFTS regular-season finale in Tuscon, Arizona, on Friday, but he only holds an 85-point lead on No. 37 Lachlan Richardson. If the season ended this past weekend, Richardson would be the first rider not going to World Finals.
McBride never won the World Finals event title and said that Palermo’s lack of a World Championship doesn’t take away from how talented the 32-year-old has been in his career.
“He may never win a World Championship, but he has been a great bull rider,” McBride said.
Palermo has dealt with a myriad of injuries in his career that really hindered his chances of winning the illustrious gold buckle.
In 2011, he finished third in the world standings after winning his second World Finals event title.
Palermo has had multiple shoulder surgeries in three consecutive years and has had to deal with nerve damage in his riding bicep, which he also has torn before in his career.
“When is he is healthy, he can beat the best guys on the biggest stage on the greatest bulls,” said Hart, who won the 2002 World Finals event average. “He has done it three times so you know he is that caliber. The injuries during the years were the only hold back from a world title. It can’t not be frustrating.”
Hummer asked Lambert if Palermo would be a first-ballot Ring of Honor inductee.
Lambert replied, “Yeah, I think so because he represented the sport in a great way. Not only in the arena, but he has represented us like we want people to think of bull riders as great people like that. What he has done in the arena is remarkable, winning three World Finals and riding with the injuries. Riding with a shoulder injury is a very hard thing to do.
“Robson will go down as one of the greats.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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