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Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012

Pressure on Harumafuji going into next basho

Kyodo

Shohozan joined sumo's upper class for the first time as komusubi on Monday, when the Japan Sumo Association released its rankings for the Jan. 13-27 New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Shohozan, who went 10-5 in November's tumultuous Kyushu tournament, will be on the west side as he enters the prestigious sanyaku ranks, the three strata below yokozuna of ozeki, sekiwake and komusubi. While he is the new face, eyes will be on yokozuna Harumafuji, who crashed and burned in Kyushu following his promotion to the sport's highest rank.

Harumafuji finished 9-6 in his yokozuna debut after steamrolling to consecutive 15-0 records in the previous two tourneys, but his struggles in Fukuoka led the Yokozuna Deliberation Council to question the Mongolian yokozuna's qualifications.

Hakuho, who ended a three-tournament winless drought with a 14-1 record in Kyushu, is the east yokozuna. The Mongolian is now looking for a 24th tournament championship that will tie him for fourth on the all-time list with Kitanoumi.

The ozeki ranks were reduced to four after Baruto injured his left thigh in Fukuoka and was demoted to sekiwake. The incumbent quartet is led by Kisenosato, who went 10-5 in November, and Kotooshu on the east, while Kakuryu and Kotoshogiku man the west's slots.

Goeido, 11-4 in November, is the east sekiwake, while Baruto will be on the west side hoping to get the 10-plus wins needed to regain his exalted ozeki status.

While Shohozan assumes his post at west komusubi, Tochiozan, who also went 10-5 in November, will be on the east side.

The New Year tournament will see just one new face in the elite makuuchi division as Kotoyuki checks in as the west No. 15 maegashira following a 9-6 record in the juryo division in November. He becomes the first makuuchi wrestler from Kagawa Prefecture since 1958.



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