Background: Terunofuji withdrew from the January tournament after breaking his collar bone. At the time, he was also hobbled with a knee injury. With only three wins he is kadoban and in danger of demotion to sekiwake if he does not log a winning record in March. The March tournament begins on 3/13. He pulled out of the January tournament on 1/15. Assuming they immobilize his shoulder, resting him and keeping him from aggravating the injury, it takes 6-8 weeks to heal a broken collarbone.
If he withdraws, the implications are clear, he will be demoted to sekiwake for the May tournament. He will then need to register 10 wins in May to secure promotion back to ozeki status. If he cannot do it, he’ll be treated like anyone else, needing 33 wins in three consecutive tournaments (unless you’re Goeido) to get promoted back to ozeki.
I don’t want to influence the voting with my opinion, so click here if you want it:
I believe he should withdraw from the March tournament. He’ll lose ozeki status – and presumably the retainers and other benefits that come with it. However, his health is most important and the risk of further injury and still losing ozeki status will clearly be there if he fights.
Personally, not only do I think he should withdraw from the March tournament, if he were in my stable, I’d be open to pulling him from the May tournament as well. He’s 24 years old and has won a yusho. He clearly has the capability to compete at the highest levels and win. If he can stay healthy, he will win again. Two titles is basically the criteria for Yokozuna promotion. Guys like Tochinoshin have the drive to fall below Juryo and fight to come back. Terunofuji is young enough to do that but likely won’t need to. He can take a full three months to heal, start practicing, and get 10 wins in May.