Professional bull riding is one of the most unique sports in the world, and the 2014 PBR Monster Energy Invitational will garner mainstream attention as the Built Ford Tough Series takes over Madison Square Garden.
With three days of action and some of the top riders competing in front of an electric crowd in New York City, this is the kind of event that will help bridge the gap between the diehard bull riding fans and those just getting interested in the sport.
Add in the fact that this is the 500th regular-season event, according to Denise M. Abbott of PBR.com, and its clear history will be made this weekend.
Here is all the vital viewing information bull riding fans need for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden event, a full schedule and a focus on the two top riders to watch.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
When: Jan. 3-5
Watch: CBS Sports Network
Live Stream: PBR Live
|Full 2013 PBR Monster Energy Invitational Schedule|
|Jan. 3||Round 1||8 p.m. ET||PBR Live|
|Jan. 4||Round 2||8 p.m. ET||CBS Sports Network and PBR Live|
|Jan. 5||Round 3 and Finals||1 p.m. ET||CBS Sports Network and PBR Live|
Riders to Watch
The defending champion of this event is 30-year-old rider Robson Palermo. After winning the 2012 PBR World Finals, Palermo dominated in front of the sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden and proved his worth as one of the top riders in the sport.
Palermo’s dominance ended quickly, though, as he was forced to undergo season-ending surgery to his left shoulder in March. The return to New York City will be the defending champion’s first time back since his surgery.
With 13 event wins in 177 starts, Palermo is one of the best riders in the world right now, but there are legitimate questions about being rusty after missing so much time. Bull riding is all about timing and precision, and more than eight months off could throw off his ability to successfully defend his crown.
Whether Palermo succeeds or fails, his performance will be a major focus for all bull riding fans.
As one of the crowd favorites, all eyes will be on J.B. Mauney at MSG.
There are few riders with as much history on their side—Mauney has ridden in 222 events and has amassed 23 event wins over that time—and the veteran will look to add another title to his collection after finishing second in New York last year.
At only 26 years old, he is only now reaching the peak of his career, and that should strike fear in the heart of the other competitors. While this will undoubtedly be one of the most talented fields of the season, Mauney has the skill to steal the show once again.
With five wins, 11 top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes and eight 90-point rides in 26 events last year, Mauney has the strength and momentum to thrill the fans in Madison Square Garden once again.