Hakuho retains lead; Asashoryu withdraws

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho took another step toward his eighth Emperor’s Cup on Tuesday, retaining his share of the lead at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament with a bread-and-butter win over countryman Ama.

Hakuho (9-1) weathered a powerful charge before spotting an opening and getting both arms round Ama to muscle the sekiwake out to a second loss in the day’s last bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Co-leader Goeido improved to 9-1 despite having the day off, the fifth-ranked maegashira scoring a default victory over troubled yokozuna Asashoryu, who earlier in the day withdrew from the 15-day basho citing an injury to the left elbow he hurt during the Nagoya meet in July.

Asashoryu’s withdrawal comes a day after his campaign plunged to new depths with a fourth defeat at the hands of Ama.

The once-dominant yokozuna’s career has taken a downward turn this past year and he has not claimed a title since beating rival grand champion Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet in March.

Although Asashoryu got himself into shape for the autumn meet after pulling out in Nagoya, he failed to convince and his form here led certain sections of the media to speculate on the possibility of him retiring.

Also Tuesday, Kotomitsuki stayed in touch with the leaders at 8-2 after sending fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai (6-4) packing with some well-placed thrusts.

Veteran Kaio (7-3) emerged victorious from the day’s other all-ozeki battle when he wrapped up Kotooshu (5-5).