By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The long awaited return of two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney is right around the corner.
The future Ring of Honor inductee attempted – and rode – his first practice bull in nine months as he continues to push forward to making a return from his second reconstructive right shoulder surgery in three years.
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Mauney posted the video on his personal Instagram account Friday morning, and the practice session comes after Dr. Tandy Freeman cleared him to return to competition a few weeks ago.
The 33-year-old is expected to make his 2020 season debut on Aug. 7-8 in Bismarck, North Dakota, at the 20th annual PBR Dakota Community Bank & Trust Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
“Tandy released me last Thursday,” Mauney told five-time World Finals qualifier Colby Yates on RidePass on July 10. “He did some X-rays and said it is as good as it is going to be. Whenever, the next bull riding they have, I will be there.”
2020 is the first year reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger’s annual bull riding is a premier series event.
Mauney is a huge fan favorite in North Dakota, let alone throughout the world, and this will be his sixth appearance inside the Bismarck Event Center. Success has been hard to find for Mauney, though, as he is only 2-for-10 in Bismarck in various competitions.
In 2017, Mauney squared off with the late Pearl Harbor in a marquee $50,000 matchup. Pearl Harbor bucked Mauney off in 4.91 seconds after memorably kissing Mauney’s backside prior to the showdown earlier in the day.
Mauney’s career would forever change one month later when he severely injured his right shoulder for the first time at the 2017 Calgary Stampede.
The 2017 surgery performed by Freeman lasted nearly six hours. Freeman repaired torn ligaments and his rotator cuff, transplanted his bicep tendon and removed bone fragments after Mauney was injured during a gruesome wreck attempting to ride Cowahbunga at the Calgary Stampede.
At the time, Freeman compared what he saw inside Mauney’s shoulder to that of a grenade going off.
Mauney’s 2020 surgery was less severe compared to that in 2017. There was less damage inside his shoulder this time around, and the primary issue was a torn rotator cuff. Freeman was able to use the surgery to clean out a buildup of scar tissue, too.
Unlike his first recovery, when he rushed back to competition in four months, Mauney has stayed extremely committed to not rushing back too soon in 2020. In fact, the 9-month break is the longest Mauney has ever had in his injury-riddled career.
Mauney last left the bucking chutes during the 2019 PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals when JJ Da Boss bucked him off and fractured his right shoulder – adding further damage to the legend’s battered shoulder. It was the last straw for Mauney, as he would be unable to compete at the 2019 World Finals despite attempting to ride in Round 1 to no avail.
The 14-time PBR World Finals qualifier has now undergone two right shoulder surgeries in the past three years, but he is committed to keeping his World Finals qualification streak alive in 2020.
MAUNEY CERTAINLY HAS A PATH TO QUALIFY FOR THE FINALS
The COVID-19 pandemic has flipped the PBR schedule upside down this season, which has kept the world standings extremely tight outside of the World Champion contenders.
There have only been 43 events that offered world points so far in the 2020 season– 13 Unleash The Beast, 17 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour and 13 Touring Pro Division.
The lack of non-UTB events in the first half/summer is going to make the race to qualify for the 2020 PBR World Finals that much more intense in the second half. It also benefits a rider like Mauney, who had to sit out the first seven months of this season.
Mauney has eight guaranteed UTB events for the second half, as well as 10 World Champion exemptions. Therefore, Mauney has a draw spot for the remaining 11 UTB events.
The future Ring of Honor inductee only needs to earn 85 points to crack the Top 35.
How easy could that be in theory?
Well, one two-day event average victory (80 world points) victory could do the trick.
If that win were to come in Bismarck, Mauney, who is second all-time with 528 rides on the premier series, would also break two-time World Champion Justin McBride’s record for most event wins on the premier series with his 33rd.
“I am not finished just yet,” Mauney said. “Who says I am out of my prime? I just have been knocked down a little bit.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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