After watching J.B. Mauney cover Asteroid for 93.5 points, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said those are the moments he savors as a fan and former rider.
Murray talked at length in his weekly podcast about Mauney's accomplishment this weekend in San Antonio, during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
"If you compared it to boxing," Murray said, "he just beat the guy nobody thought could ever be beat, and that made the event for me."
Asteroid hadn't been ridden since Fabiano Vieira made the whistle in August of last year.
During that time he had been marked 45 points or higher in 16 of 18 outs, including having bucked off Mauney in 2.96 seconds when they matched up earlier this year, in Portland, Ore.
Murray noted that Mauney is not healthy.
The 25-year-old is still contending with an injury to his riding hand and a newly sprained pelvis as well as the fact that there is "no telling what else that he doesn't ever tell people about." Murray also said that Saturday night was anything but a day off for Asteroid.
In fact, he was at his best and, according to Murray, Mauney earned every point he was marked. Some experts - Justin McBride and J.W. Hart among them - have said Mauney could have even been marked closer to the record of 96.5 points.
"He's the most dangerous," said Murray, when talking about this year's contenders for the world title, "in my book, because he steps up."
Injured or not, Murray called Mauney the most dynamic rider competing on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Earlier this year, he rode three bulls with his off-hand after breaking a bone in his left riding hand - two of which came in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. In 2010, he was the rider who made the whistle on Code Blue. A year earlier, in 2009, he did the same when he selected Bones.
Code Blue was a World Champion Bull (2009) and Bones is a two-time World Champion Bull (2008 and 2010).
He covered both in the prime of their careers.
"J.B. is such an old-school soul that just truly loves the grit and the guts that bull riding requires," Murray said. "When you see him step up and pick Asteroid like that, it's not for show. It's not, 'Hey, look at me.' It's because those are the opportunities he thrives on."
However, in addition to stepping up when the lights are brightest - in 2009, he won the World Finals event by becoming the first rider to cover all eight bulls - he will have to improve his consistency.
His 54.72 percent riding average is the lowest among the Top 5 riders in the world.
In addition to covering two bulls on Saturday to finish third in the average and move from fifth in the world standings to fourth, he also bucked off Blue On Black in the opening round the night before.
"I don't know that I have the answer to that," Murray said, "but I think sometimes you get to expecting so much of guys, especially the better they are.
"He's got all the talent in the world. I love his guts, I love his approach, I like his style, and I like his toughness. I'm a huge, huge fan, but you've got to do it-I don't care what sport it is, you can't be absolutely amazing part of the time or even most of the time. You've got to do it every time.
"It's tough. Hey, there's a reason the gold buckle is so coveted."
Past Champions have not had sustained stretches of inconsistencies in the season in which they won their title.
However, Murray noted, professional bull riding is a sport where the odds are "severely against" riders every time they climb into the chute.
The BFTS is a yearlong struggle - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Murray said there are a million opportunities for riders to quit, go home, give less than 100 percent effort, let themselves get knocked down when they're beat up and question their will power. In spite of that, he said, they have to keep fighting and working at it the whole way through.
"You have to figure out how to be more consistent than anybody else," he said, "and dominate at the same time."
This week's 25-minute conversation also examines the Top 10 riders in the world standings as well as a spirited discussion regarding who among them are true contenders for this year's world title.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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