PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney remembers a time when he was “invincible.”
The 20-year-old version of James Burton Mauney would get stomped on, wrecked out, hung up and tossed around repeatedly with the only consequence being his damaged pride. Nowadays, wrecks inside the bull riding arena do a little more damage.
Regardless, Mauney’s mindset hasn’t changed one bit despite missing the last four events because of a right groin injury and his ongoing recovery from reconstructive shoulder surgery seven months ago.
“You always have to prove you are tougher than the rest,” Mauney said. “I am getting older, but I still think I am tougher than the rest of them.”
Mauney confirmed on Tuesday he is returning to The 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast this weekend in Kansas City for the Caterpillar Classic.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy began getting on his drop barrel late last week after Dr. Tandy Freeman gave him the relatively all-clear sign. Mauney had undergone an MRI to determine if he had a sports hernia, but the quality of the MRI was poor.
“The MRI screwed up, but he said from what he could tell it doesn’t look like anything major,” Mauney said. “That works for me.”
Mauney admitted that he should have listened to Freeman from the moment he first got hurt in the season-opener Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden and gotten the MRI sooner, but that he also didn’t mind sitting out these last few weeks seeing as he was originally not supposed to return to action from his summer shoulder surgery until the end of January.
The 12-time PBR World Finals qualifier had thought about returning to action the last two weeks, but took a more cautious approach for a change.
“I probably could have been back earlier than I was, but seeing as I didn’t have the MRI until last week, that kind of set me back,” he said. “But I think it was good anyways. I was still sore a week before Anaheim. There was certain ways I would move and I could dang sure feel it. I probably needed a month off to get everything back in line. I am ready to go now. I have been sitting at home.
“I rather had been going, but that is part of riding bulls.”
Mauney felt some extreme tightness and soreness in his groin after his first few trips on his drop barrel. That was expected though, and Mauney has been “mashing” away at it these past couple of days and planned on riding some horses on Tuesday to continue his rehabilitation.
He hasn’t competed since getting wrecked out in 1.72 seconds at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Denver on Jan. 8 by Burn It Down.
“Just my groin and everything was tight,” Mauney said of his time at home. “I hadn’t stretched it or been on anything (at first). I have been getting on that drop barrel mashing it and I will ride some horses today.”
Mauney is 22nd in the world standings following his 3-for-5 performance in New York.
He hasn’t ridden in more than 22 events since 2014, but he did win the 2015 World Championship despite riding in only 21 events.
Mauney did miss two of the first three events last year because of a hip injury. He didn’t miss another bull riding until he severely injured his shoulder at the Calgary Stampede in July.
If not for the reconstructive shoulder surgery, Mauney was on pace for one of his healthiest seasons and possibly a third World Championship.
Jess Lockwood won the 2017 World Championship by riding in only 20 events.
If he does not miss any more time this year, Mauney will max out at 22 events in 2018.
“I have noticed I don’t bounce back as fast as I used to,” Mauney said. “Once you hit 30, you don’t bounce back quite as fast.”
He later concluded, “I am not saying it is a good thing to sit at home, but I used to go all year and never took a break. I think that may have had something to do with me never winning the world until I did. The year I won it (2013), that was the first year I took the summer off and didn’t go hard.”
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