OSAKA – Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu spurned a glorious chance to put daylight between himself and rival Hakuho after a shock first defeat against Kotoshogiku at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Asashoryu watched compatriot Hakuho (10-2) crash to ozeki Chiyotaikai at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium but was unable to take full advantage as another upset unfolded in the day’s finale.
Asashoryu (11-1) was in trouble right after the faceoff and could not muster the strength to fend off a supercharged effort from Kotoshogiku (6-6), who huffed and puffed his way past the yokozuna for a thoroughly deserved win.
“I didn’t care if I lost. I just knew I had to keep going forward,” said Kotoshogiku. “It hasn’t sunk in that I have won yet.”
Asashoryu’s loss came after Chiyotaikai (8-4) secured a winning record and thus ensured ozeki status for the next tourney after throttling yokozuna Hakuho.
Asashoryu preserved his one-win cushion while Hakuho dropped into a tie for second with rank-and-filers Baruto and Tochiozan.
Asashoryu is seeking his first title win in four meets and looks set to get the chance for revenge over Hakuho as the yokozuna duo remain on a collision course.
In other bouts of interest, Russian grappler Wakanoho, 19, scored his first victory over an ozeki wrestler when he upset veteran Kaio (8-4) to level his record at 6-6.