FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Asashoryu plowed over Iwakiyama to remain unbeaten as he moved a step closer in his bid to winning a record-setting seventh straight Emperor’s Cup after the second day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Meanwhile it was a day of mixed fortune for ozeki Kaio, Tochiazuma and Chiyotaikai while newly promoted Bulgarian Kotooshu picked up his first win by default after Futeno (0-2) withdrew from the 15-day meet with an ankle injury.
In the day’s finale at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Asashoryu hit his fourth-ranked opponent with a barrage of slaps to the face and moved deftly to the side before marching his opponent out from behind to improve to 2-0. Iwakiyama slipped to 1-1.
Asashoryu has a chance to win all six basho this year and seven straight titles — a feat never accomplished by a wrestler.
Kotooshu, who suffered a shock defeat to Kakizoe on Sunday, appeared set to become the first wrestler from Europe to a win a title at the autumn basho in September but relinquished a two-win lead before buckling under the pressure in a playoff with the yokozuna.
The 22-year-old gentle giant posted an impressive 13-2 record last time out but will need an equally strong performance here to earn a promotion to sumo’s second highest rank of ozeki.
Tochiazuma stopped Dejima (0-2) in his tracks and got a grip on his opponent’s left shoulder before swiftly dragging him to the clay to stay undefeated but Kaio (1-1) was sent packing in one-sided affair with Miyabiyama (2-0).
Kaio, who faces relegation for a record-tying eighth time and needs eight wins at this meet to keep his rank, absorbed a fierce charge from the No. 4 maegashira but retreated over the edge without much fuss.
Chiyotaikai was the second ozeki casualty, hitting the clay with a thud as he was forced onto his back after his trademark thrusts proved ineffective against komusubi Kyokutenho (1-1).
In other key bouts, sekiwake Kotomitsuki (2-0) was sent reeling onto his heels by Kakizoe (1-1) but recovered nicely at the last moment to toss his second-ranked opponent over the ridge with a well-executed arm bar throw.
In a battle of eastern European wrestlers, Georgian Kokkai (1-1) prevailed over Russian Roho (1-1), crushing his opponent back after the face-off before shoving him quickly to the clay.
Ama charged ahead to grind out winless Tokitenku to improve to 2-0, making quick work of the same opponent he got locked into a marathon bout in their last meeting in September.
Teenager Kisenosato, who was promoted to his highest rank of No. 5 maegashira after a strong showing in September, manhandled Hokutoriki, sending his opponent to a second straight loss.
Mongolian Hakuho, who tried a sneaky “henka” sidestep maneuver in his loss to Asashoryu on the opening day, slipped to a second straight defeat when he retreated and was abruptly shown an exit after the face-off.
Sumo’s court jest Takamisakari got a deft right-handed grip on Kotoshogiku before slapping the seventh-ranked wrestler to the dirt, leaving both men at 1-1.
Thirty-seven-year old Kotonowaka got his hands wrapped around the belt of Hakurozan (1-1) and muscled his opponent over the straw ridge in an earlier bout to improve to 2-0.