BISMARCK, N.D. – In theory, J.B. Mauney could easily be less than enthused about facing off against World No. 1 bull Pearl Harbor this coming weekend in Bismarck, North Dakota.
It was only less than a year ago that Pearl Harbor nearly cracked Mauney’s skull inside the bucking chutes in Springfield, Missouri, when the black bull with an innocent white face rocketed the 11-time World Finals qualifier into the steel bucking chutes.
However, throw in a $50,000 bounty and a chance at payback against a bull that embarrassed him earlier this season in 2.79 seconds and Mauney is more than happy to leave his air-conditioned ranch in Mooresville, North Carolina, and head to central North Dakota.
“$50,000? I will do about anything,” Mauney said in feature for PBR LIVE. “I will come get on any bull for you want me to for $50,000. I don’t look at it any different than getting on in the practice pen. It is just another bull. As long as I do my job, everything will work out the way it is supposed to.”
Still, Friday night’s Cooper Tires Battle in Bismarck will certainly be one to watch inside the bucking chute.
Fans can watch all of the action Friday night, including Mauney’s showdown against Pearl Harbor, from the Dakota Community Bank PBR Bull Riding Challenge Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event on PBR LIVE beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Mauney has been unable to get out of the bucking chute in Springfield with Pearl Harbor two times in his career.
In 2015, a similar incident inside the bucking chute occurred with Pearl Harbor aggravating Mauney’s lower leg and ankle.
Mauney isn’t pointing fingers, though.
“He has a hair trigger and I get pretty rammed up in there and got to jumping around on him,” Mauney said last month. “It had a little to do with me and a little to do with him. Sometimes my motors gets to running too fast.”
Once the gate opens, that is when magic has happened between the two 2017 World Champion contenders.
Mauney is only one of four riders to cover Pearl Harbor at any level of PBR competition when he did so to the tune of 94.25 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, last year. He completed the ride despite having no feeling in his riding arm.
The ride will forever live on Mauney’s career-highlight list, but what does reigning Stock Contractor Chad Berger think Mauney needs to do this time around to once reach 8 seconds inside the Bismarck Civic Center?
“If that bull turns right back to the right, he has to make the corner,” Berger said. “If he makes that corner, then it is anybody’s game. If he is going around there really hard and gets J.B. rocked into his hand. It will be over quick.”
Mauney failed to get around the corner in Anaheim when Pearl Harbor got him out of position almost instantly.
Pearl Harbor turned back to the left and into Mauney’s hand when he rode him in Sioux Falls.
When Shane Proctor rode Pearl Harbor last month in Tacoma, Washington, he too was able to get past the corner and rode the bull to the right for 93.5 points.
Pearl Harbor is 8-1 this season and is averaging a career-best 46.13 points per out. He is 38-4 at all levels of competition.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride called Pearl Harbor the leading contender for this year’s World Champion Bull title.
“He is the rankest bull bar none,” McBride said. “He is big, strong and you never know which way he is going to turn back. He has up and down, drop. He will rattle their chins in the chute.”
The 6-year-old bull most recently wiped out Derek Kolbaba in 2.34 seconds at Last Cowboy Standing.
Pearl Harbor has bucked off five of his 2017 foes in less than 3 seconds and he has been marked over 46 points a PBR-best five times this season.
“He is worth them points, but it is obviously tough for the judges (when he makes it look so easy), but that is where they have to pick it apart,” McBride added.
The corner is truly the key.
“If he can make that corner, we both know he can ride him,” Berger said.
Even so, Berger doesn’t want to give his bull too much of the advantage heading into the matchup.
Pearl Harbor has gone to the right most of the season, but he has shown a tendency to go to the left sometimes.
“I don’t give a whole big favorite to the bull, to be honest to you,” Berger said. “I think it is very evenly matched. When he got on him this winter, he just beat him around the corner so fast, and he didn’t have a chance. That bull has started to the left before, and if he goes left then he has another good shot at riding him.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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