OSAKA – Unbeaten Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu gave compatriot Ama a good hiding to maintain his slender advantage over archrival Hakuho heading into the home stretch at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Asashoryu was in total control in the day’s penultimate bout at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, soaking up Ama’s (4-5) attack and sending the sekiwake flying with a pair of meaty shoves to stay on course for his 22nd Emperor’s Cup.
Victory kept Asashoryu one win clear of fellow yokozuna Hakuho, who beat Kotoshogiku (4-5) to remain in a share of second place with lower-ranked wrestlers Takamisakari, Homasho, and Tochiozan.
Hakuho kept front-running Asashoryu on his toes when he rounded up the day’s action by bellying sekiwake Kotoshogiku toward the edge of the dohyo and finishing the job.
Asashoryu is seeking his first title win in four meets and revenge over Hakuho, who spoiled his comeback from a two-tournament suspension with victory on the final day of the New Year meet.
Hakuho is aiming to become only the sixth wrestler since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958 to win four consecutive titles.
In other bouts, Chiyotaikai (6-3) suffered a second straight defeat after being shunted out by Tokitenku (4-5) and still requires two more wins to save his ozeki rank.
It was an otherwise upset free day at sumo’s second rank of ozeki as Kaio and Kotomitsuki both posted hard-fought wins.
Kaio (7-2) countered to squash Asasekiryu at the ring’s edge, flooring the top-ranked maegashira with a backward leg trip to stay on the fringes of the title race.
Kotomitsuki rebounded from Sunday’s loss to Kaio to beat second-ranked Miyabiyama with an inner-thigh-grabbing twist-down technique, leaving both men with 3-6 records.
In the lower ranks, sumo oddball Takamisakari got the biggest cheer of the day when he dug deep to win an epic battle with 16th-ranked Otsukasa (4-5) and stay in the title hunt.
“I have never secured a winning record this quickly (in the makuuchi division),” said Takamisakari. “I’ll keep putting up a fight in each bout.”
Homasho barged out 14th-ranked Kakizoe (5-4) to also secure a majority of wins, while 12th-ranked Tochiozan registered a routine eighth win over Kasugao (5-4).
Earlier in the day, Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu withdrew due to an arm injury and forfeited his bout against fourth-ranked maegashira Wakanoho (5-4).