FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Asashoryu picked up his third win with little trouble while ozeki Tochiazuma became the first major upset victim at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.
Asashoryu heads a group of unbeaten wrestlers after spinning fellow Mongolian Tokitenku around and eventually out of the ring with a sequence of belt-grip throw attempts that kept the third-ranked maegashira off-balance for much of the day’s final bout.
Asashoryu, who looked somewhat shaky the previous two days, is aiming for his third straight Emperor’s Cup and 19th overall.
The grand champion is the odds-on tournament favorite after ozeki and countryman Hakuho withdrew from the 15-day meet at Fukuoka Kokusai Center with a broken toe.
In the penultimate match, Tochiazuma became the first casualty among the yokozuna and ozeki wrestling in the tournament, who all won their bouts on the opening two days.
Tochiazuma, one of only two wrestlers who denied Asashoryu a tournament title over the past two years, appeared headed for victory before allowing Futeno (1-2) to get a right-hand belt grip along the straw ridge and lunge forward for a come-from-behind win.
Veteran Kaio silenced critics with another convincing win, comfortably holding off a challenge from up-and-coming Kotoshogiku (0-3) in a bout capped by an effective pull-down maneuver.