Yokozuna Hakuho was handed a shock first defeat at the hands of rank-and-filer Shotenro, denting his hopes in a bid for a second consecutive title on the sixth day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
Fellow Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu, meanwhile, had to do some quick thinking on the edge to escape sudden death against Aminishiki in the day’s final bout but improved to a spotless 6-0.
Asashoryu, who is seeking his 24th career title and first in three meets, shares the lead with Sadogatake stable ozeki duo Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki at the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Hakuho, who had nothing of the sharpness that had allowed him to limit his defeats to just three regulation bouts this year, appeared to suffer a lapse in concentration as he was pushed upright by the previously winless Shotenro at the faceoff.
The yokozuna tried to regain his balance but was slapped forward, touching the dohyo surface with both hands. Hakuho took the title in Nagoya in July with a 14-1 mark but now faces an uphill battle to join former yokozuna Futabayama with a 12th Emperor’s Cup.
In the day’s final, Asashoryu, possibly jarred by the loss of Hakuho, was too slow out of the crouch and was nearly pushed out before regrouping by teetering on the edge with one leg and swatting the komusubi into the ringside seats. Aminishiki slipped to 1-5.
In other key action, Kotomitsuki never relented against Kyokutenho (1-5), getting both hands wrapped around the Mongolian No. 2 maegashira before placing him comfortably over the straw bales.
Bulgarian Kotooshu stayed right in line in the very next match against Tamanoshima (1-5), keeping a low center of gravity as he proceeded to shove out the No. 3 maegashira.
Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji (3-3) took control from start to finish in his bout against countryman Kakuryu, hitting the No. 3 maegashira with a thrusting attack to send him to a first defeat.