Lone yokozuna Terunofuji hit the first stumbling block of his injury comeback at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday, losing a marathon bout against No. 1 maegashira Wakamotoharu.
The 32-year-old grand champion is aiming to get back on track at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan after withdrawing from the past three tournaments with severe back pain. He has also been dealing with ever-present concerns about his knees, which have undergone surgery.
Both Terunofuji and Wakamotoharu tried to win by force out before locking up in the middle. A foiled throw attempt from Terunofuji preceded another long stalemate that ended with Wakamotoharu rallying to force the Mongolian-born yokozuna over the straw in 1 minute, 40.9 seconds.