Top-ranked maegashira Kisenosato played spoiler on Asashoryu’s comeback by handing the Mongolian yokozuna a shocking first loss on the second day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Back from a two-tournament suspension Asashoryu, watched from the sidelines as compatriot Hakuho made it two wins out of two with an easy win over Tokitenku but was unable to follow suit in the day’s finale at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kisenosato (2-0) came into the bout buoyed by Sunday’s giant-killing defeat of ozeki Chiyotaikai and the 21-year-old upstart oozed class again as he escaped a headlock and sent the yokozuna spinning out of the ring.
Asashoryu is targeting victory on his return to the raised ring after he was banned for two tournaments last August. He was punished for playing soccer in Mongolia when he was supposedly carrying injuries that allowed him to sit out a regional sumo tournament.
The suspension triggered a stress-related illness and Asashoryu spent until the end of November in his homeland receiving treatment for the illness and other physical injuries.
In the day’s penultimate bout, Hakuho had an easy day at the office, the yokozuna barely breaking sweat as compatriot Tokitenku (0-2) lost his footing and crumpled at the “tachi-ai” face off.
Hakuho posted a majority of wins in all six basho last year, but he will invariably have to do better than his sub-par 12-3 mark when he took the Kyushu title in November now that Asashoryu is back in the picture.
Elsewhere, there was more woe for Chiyotaikai, who slumped to a second straight defeat, while relegation-threatened Kotooshu was also on the casualty list on an upset-filled day for the ozeki rank.
Chiyotaikai did well to stay in the ring after being put on the back foot following the charge but the Kokonoe stable grappler’s hesitancy proved costly and Miyabiyama (1-1) followed through for a well-earned frontal push-out win.