OSAKA – Asashoryu did his best “Terminator” impression to kill off sekiwake Kisenosato and maintain his share of the lead with fellow Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
Asashoryu erupted out of his crouch in the day’s finale and shook Kisenosato (3-4) around like a rag doll before forcing him into the splits on the sandy surface for a seventh win at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Hakuho was also all business in the preceding bout, biding his time and finding an opening to shunt out third-ranked Miyabiyama (1-6) and keep his slate clean at 7-0.
Asashoryu is seeking a 24th Emperor’s Cup and second in a row after he completed a memorable comeback to the raised ring by beating Hakuho in a championship playoff on the final day of the New Year basho.
In another key bout, aging ozeki Kaio dug deep to stay in touch with the front-running yokozuna, outmuscling Mongolian komusubi Kyokutenho (2-5) to register a sixth win.
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu claimed European bragging rights by getting both arms around Estonian behemoth Baruto and bundling the sekiwake over the straw ridge. Kotooshu improved to 5-2 while Baruto dropped to 3-4.
Kotomitsuki (5-2) took another major step toward retaining his rank, overpowering winless No. 1 maegashira Hokutoriki with a flurry of shoves.
Kotomitsuki pulled out late in the New Year meet with a 2-10 mark because of a right ankle injury and needs a majority of wins here to preserve his ozeki status.
Ozeki Harumafuji rebounded from back-to-back defeats with a hard-fought win over komusubi Goeido (3-4) and also sits two wins off the pace.
Meanwhile, Chiyotaikai’s disastrous start to the 15-day meet continued as the ozeki was mugged at the “tachi-ai” charge and pulled down to a sixth defeat by second-ranked maegashira Kotoshogiku, who improved his record to 2-5.