NAGOYA – Yokozuna Asashoryu came within one win of clinching his 17th career title after yet another flawless performance on the 13th day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
Asashoryu (13-0) showed off his arsenal of offensive skills against veteran ozeki Kaio (8-5) in maintaining his perfect record after ozeki Hakuho and rank-and-filer Tamanoshima delayed his title celebrations with their 11th wins at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Asashoryu got his left hand onto the belt of Tochiazuma moments after the faceoff and knocked the burly ozeki off-balance with a right-hand sweep of his left leg and then with a slap-down attempt while shoving forward in relentless fashion.
The grand champion, who pulled out of the summer meet in May with a right elbow injury, will lift the Emperor’s Cup if he beats ozeki Chiyotaikai on Saturday.
Hakuho (11-2) kept alive his hopes of winning back-to-back Emperor’s Cups and earning promotion to yokozuna by disposing of Chiyotaikai (9-4) in an all-ozeki affair.
Hakuho held his composure in the face of Chiyotaikai’s trademark slaps and got inside to grab his belt with both hands before crouching forward for a convincing shove-out win.
Hakuho needs to win both of his remaining bouts, including a meeting with Mongolian compatriot Asashoryu, to be considered for promotion to sumo’s highest rank. Chiyotaikai lost his third in a row.
In other bouts, sekiwake Miyabiyama won for the third straight day to improve to 8-5 after his hopes of ozeki promotion was all but dashed, sending ozeki Tochiazuma (8-5) crumbling down with an effective slap on the back of his opponent’s head.
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (6-7) are facing the danger of finishing the tournament with a losing record, falling to his seventh loss after a lopsided defeat at the hands of Russian Roho.
Roho executed a well-timed belt-grip throw to finish off the match in a matter of seconds for his seventh win and third straight after returning from a three-day suspension.
Twenty-year-old komusubi Kisenosato (7-6) yanked down Kakizoe (3-10) to notch his fifth win in as many days and move within one win of securing a winning record in his debut in the sanyaku, or the three ranks below yokozuna.
Kokkai (9-4) from the former Soviet republic of Georgia picked up his ninth win after taking total control of his bout against sekiwake Kotomitsuki (8-5), who was pulled down onto the dirt to suffer his fifth loss.