SUMMER GRAND TOURNAMENT

Hokutoriki closes in on title

Hokutoriki took a giant step closer to claiming his first Emperor’s Cup on Saturday with a one-sided victory over Takekaze at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena.

Top maegashira Hokutoriki came charging out of the blocks and used a series of powerful arm thrusts to send No. 8 maegashira Takekaze out over the straw ridge.

Hokutoriki, who defeated grand champion Asashoryu earlier in the tournament, improved to 13-1 and can take home the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday with a win over No. 16 maegashira Hakuho.

In other major bouts, Mongolian Asashoryu overpowered ozeki Kaio to remain one win off the pace at 12-2.

After being pushed back at the face off, Asashoryu recovered when he forced Kaio to the edge and sent him sprawling to the dirt with a powerful arm throw. Kaio dropped to 9-5.

Asashoryu, who is gunning for his third straight title, will need to defeat Chiyotaikai on the final day while hoping Hakuho upsets Hokutoriki to force a playoff.

Elsewhere, Chiyotaikai used his trademark arm thrusts to send fellow ozeki Musoyama out over the edge after a bone-crushing blow at the face off.

Chiyotaikai improved to 9-5 while Musoyama dropped to 6-8 and will finish the tournament with a losing record.

No. 5 maegashira Tamanoshima picked up his 10th win when he got both arms around Wakanosato and bulldozed the sekiwake wrestler out to his sixth loss.

In an earlier bout, Georgian-born Kokkai fell out of the running when he was hauled down by Kaiho after a poor start at the face off.

Kokkai, a No. 7 maegashira, dropped to 10-4 while No. 12 maegashira Kaiho improved to 9-5.

Hakuho, making his debut in the elite Makuuchi division, continued his impressive run when he improved to 11-3 with a win over Mongolian Kyokushuzan.

Hakuho, who will face Hokutoriki on Sunday, shoved out No. 7 maegashira Kyokushuzan, who fell to 8-6.