FUKUOKA – It was a slugfest, but Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho emerged the victor Saturday against ozeki Chiyotaikai to take a huge step to claiming his fifth career title on the penultimate day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center on Saturday.
Hakuho took the sole lead with a 12-2 record and can take home the spoils with a victory over ozeki Kotomitsuki on Sunday.
Chiyotaikai, meanwhile, fell to 11-3 and must beat ozeki Kaio on the final day to keep his title hopes alive.
In the day’s premier bout, Chiyotaikai upended Hakuho with a fierce hit off the charge but the yokozuna was quick to get the ozeki in an arm-lock and smacked his opponent to the dohyo surface at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Looking more like a street brawl in a back alley, Chiyotaikai’s face was left bruised around the eyes while the yokozuna was breathing heavily as he accepted his prize money.
Hakuho is wrestling here as the lone yokozuna in the absence of suspended compatriot Asashoryu and is the odds-on favorite to win.
Estonian lumberjack Baruto, the only other wrestler who had a mathematical chance of winning the title, was sent sprawling by Mongolian komusubi Ama, who improved to 9-5.
Baruto extended both arms forward to grapple his opponent, but Ama swiftly moved to the side and swatted down the 16th-ranked maegashira to a fourth defeat.
Kaio, 35, escaped demotion for a record 11th time with a convincing win over ozeki Kotomitsuki, who slipped to his fifth defeat.
He notched the majority of wins needed to maintain his rank, deploying a well-worked underarm throw in front of his hometown fans.