Ozeki Kotooshu dumped Hakuho to a shock first defeat Saturday, while ozeki Harumafuji sent yokozuna Asashoryu crashing to his second loss, throwing the title race into confusion with one day remaining at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho, aiming for back-to-back titles after winning the spring meet with a perfect 15-0 mark, saw his winning streak in regulation snapped at 33 bouts.
Kotooshu (9-5) got a quick jump to the side at the faceoff and promptly moved in for a firm belt grip before handily disposing of Hakuho with an overarm throw that left the yokozuna’s back covered in dirt at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Hakuho and Harumafuji now share the lead at 13-1, and Asashoryu, who faces his yokozuna nemesis on Sunday, also has a mathematical shot in a tie of second with rank-and-filer Kisenosato.
In fact, a four-way playoff could ensue if both Hakuho and Harumafuji, who wrestles Kotooshu, lose their bouts but a more likely scenario would be a showdown between Hakuho and Harumafuji.