FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Asashoryu held off a challenge from up-and-coming teenager Kisenosato for his third straight win while Bulgarian Kotooshu earned his second win at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.
Asashoryu greeted Kisenosato with a right-hand slap to his cheek at the face-off, quickly crouched deep inside and, after fending off a leg-trip attempt with ease, toppled the 19-year-old with an excellently executed right-thigh sweep at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Asashoryu, who is aiming for an unprecedented seventh straight Emperor’s Cup, is among six unbeaten wrestlers in the top makuuchi division three days into the 15-day tournament.
In September, Asashoryu ousted main rival Kotooshu in a playoff to win the autumn tourney and is also looking to become the first wrestler to win all six tournaments in a year.
Kisenosato, who has risen to his highest rank of No. 5 maegashira after a 12-3 showing at the autumn meet, is 1-2 after his loss to Asashoryu in his first-ever meeting with a yokozuna.
Promotion-chasing sekiwake Kotooshu notched his second win in convincing fashion as the Bulgarian held the belt tightly with both hands at the face-off and grabbed the right leg of Dejima before wildly barging out the winless No. 3 maegashira.
Earlier in the tournament, Kotooshu got off to a nightmare start to his bid for promotion to the second-highest rank of ozeki with an opening-day loss to No. 2 maegashira Kakizoe. On Monday, he was awarded his first win here by default after injury-hit No. 2 maegashira Futeno withdrew.
The 22-year-old looked set to become the first wrestler from Europe to capture the Emperor’s Cup in September but wilted under the pressure and surrendered a two-win lead before losing to Asashoryu in a playoff.
Kotooshu posted an impressive 13-2 record last time out and will need an equally strong performance here to earn promotion to ozeki.
In other key bouts, ozeki Chiyotaikai (2-1) survived an initial charge from Iwakiyama and slapped down the No. 4 maegashira after backpedaling to the ring’s edge. Iwakiyama slipped to 1-2.
Tochiazuma (2-1) let a win slip away after failing to fend off a deft maneuver by in-form fourth-ranked maegashira Miyabiyama (3-0), who sidestepped near the edge to see off the onrushing ozeki.