NAGOYA – Bulgarian komusubi Kotooshu dismantled crowd pleaser Takamisakari to up the stakes against joint leader yokozuna Asashoryu on Saturday, winning his 12th bout at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
With just one day remaining, the pair is heading for their second clash of the 15-day meet in a possible playoff for winner takes all on Sunday.
Kotooshu, who stands over 2 meters and is being dubbed sumo’s David Beckham, absorbed a fierce attack from Takamisakari before adroitly spinning on his heels and wrenching down his opponent with his trademark overarm throw at Aichi Prefectural Gym. Takamisakari dropped to 10-4 and fell out of the running for the title.
Kotooshu stunned the yokozuna earlier in the week and will have a second chance at glory, if both wrestlers beat their opponents, Wakanosato and Tochiazuma, respectively, in their final bouts of regulation on the final day.
A victory over the yokozuna would make the Bulgarian the first European wrestler to claim the Emperor’s Cup hardware, but Asashoryu is still the favorite to win his fifth straight title.
In the day’s finale, Asashoryu, who won the spring meet with a flawless 15-0 record to take home his 12th career crown, wasted little time disposing of ozeki Kaio with a quick frontal force out to stay in a share of the lead.
Kaio came into Nagoya having to save his ozeki status and more lucky, including a win by default over Hakuho, than convincing to make it this far before falling out of contention at 10-4.
In another key bout, Wakanosato (10-4) saw his title hopes dashed after he inadvertently stepped over the rope while trying to deflect a turbo charge from Futeno, who improved to 9-5.
Tochiazuma (9-5) bumped heads with Georgian wrestler Kokkai, who did his best to tug the ozeki off-balance before he was upended over the ring to a sixth defeat.
Aichi native Kotomitsuki, who came into the meet with hopes of promotion to ozeki from sekiwake but has had a disappointing outing here, flipped down Kyokutenho (7-7) to improve to 6-8.
Earlier, Hakurozan, the younger brother of Roho who pulled out of the meet with an ankle injury, moved one victory of notching a winning record in his makuuchi debut after blasting out juryo-wrestler Tokitsuumi.