PUEBLO, Colo. – In preparation for the PBR 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals marathon on CBS Sports Network on Thanksgiving (6 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET), PBR.com takes a look back at the Top-5 rides of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
1. J.B. Mauney rides Bruiser for 92.75 points to win Round 4
Even though he had already mathematically clinched the 2015 World Championship minutes earlier, J.B. Mauney added one final slam dunk to his championship season when he rode World Champion Bull contender Bruiser for a World Finals best 92.75 points in Round 4.
It was the 64th 90-point ride of his career and it was almost too fitting of an end for Mauney’s season.
He has made a career out of challenging the rankest bulls in the PBR and that fearless attitude helped him overcome a torn left ACL and a 1,662.5-point deficit in the world standings this year.
A night before the ride, Mauney selected Bruiser during the Round 4-bull draft while calmly sitting on the floor of the stock contractor’s lounge in the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Unless you show up and perform, and do what you are supposed to do, your words don’t mean nothing,” Mauney said. “To be the best, you have to ride the best, and that proves it.”
2. J.B. Mauney wins Round 1 with a 91-point ride on Wicked Stick
Mauney began the 2015 World Finals with a bang by winning Round 1 with a 91-point ride on Wicked Stick.
Mauney ferociously threw his free arm for every step of the 8-second ride.
“I had to,” Mauney said. “I was kind of out of shape and that bull was kind of changing things up a little bit and it felt like he was coming back up under himself and kind of wanted me down on his head. I just let it all hang out. I knew if I did my job, we could win the round.”
The round win helped push Mauney well on his way toward securing a second world title, but the $30,000 he won with the round victory pushed him past Silvano Alves as the richest bull rider in Western sports history.
“A bull riding career doesn’t last very long, so you better go make as much as you can when you can,” Mauney said. “If it weren’t for the PBR, I wouldn’t have made near as much.”
3. Bonner Bolton wins Round 2 with career-high 90.5 points on Walk Off
Bonner Bolton didn’t expect to qualify for the World Finals after sustaining a broken right clavicle in Biloxi, Mississippi, this past August.
The 28-year-old missed six BFTS events and had dropped to 35th in the world standings before a Round 1 win in Tucson, Arizona, at the final regular-season event pushed him to 32nd.
Bolton took an even larger step forward at the Finals by winning Round 2 with a career-high 90.5 points on Walk Off.
He finished seventh overall in the event, which led to a 28th-place finish in the world standings.
Therefore, Bolton has guaranteed himself eight BFTS events in 2016 before being subject to the BFTS cutline.
“Man, all year has kind of been a warm up process for me to get comfortable at this level,” Bolton said. “To get on these bulls all the time is a little more than I am used to week in and week out. I am just thankful to put it all together here and be on top of my game where I know I can be. It feels good to brush off the rust and zero in on my skill-set.”
4. Ben Jones rides Handsome Jeff for 89.5 points in Round 4
In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter to Ben Jones that Mauney jumped past him for the Round 4 victory.
Jones was just completely humbled and happy to be competing at the Finals despite being 36 years old. In fact, following his 89.5-point ride on Handsome Jeff, Jones excused himself because he was so engulfed in his emotions.
“Man, I am just so emotional right now,” Jones said. “I didn’t make the Finals last year. Just sitting here the whole week before and not being able to ride. Just driving home that week, me and Christy spoke about what we were going to do in 2015. We hit it straight off the bat.”
Jones has spent the majority of the offseason at home in Texas recovering from a concussion, a 12th rib fracture and transverse process fractures of the first and second vertebrae, as well as injuries to his face and eye socket that he sustained on the final day of the Finals.
He will be guaranteed eight events in 2016 once he is cleared to return to competition by Dr. Tandy Freeman.
5. Silvano Alves uses 89-point ride on Rebel Yell to win first career round at the Finals
It is hard to believe that Silvano Alves had recorded 26 qualified rides at the Finals and had never won a round until this past season.
Alves rode Rebel Yell for 89 points to win Round 3 inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Being here five years in a row, and this is the first round I’ve actually won, it just feels really good to be able to achieve this,” said the three-time World Champion.
It was one of the few shining moments in an otherwise disappointing season that saw Alves miss almost four months because of a fractured left hip and finish outside of the Top-10 (12th) for the first time in his career.
The ride was his highest since covering Rango for 92.25 points in Nashville, Tennessee, on Sept. 6, 2014.
Alves, who turned 28 years old on Monday, competed in two PBR Australia events this past month and will now be focused on resting and rehabbing his hip in preparation for the 2016 BFTS season opener in Chicago on Jan. 9-10.
Despite posting a career-low 46.77 percent riding average, Alves believes he will be ready to return to peak performance this coming year.
“I am ready now,” Alves said. “I will be ready for next year. I will be stronger.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.