FUKUOKA – Hakuho capitalized on a slip-up by fellow yokozuna Asashoryu on Thursday to move into sole possession of the lead with three days remaining at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho watched from the sidelines as Asashoryu was mugged by ozeki Harumafuji and took full advantage in the day’s finale with a textbook victory over local favorite Kaio at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Hakuho traded blows with Kaio (7-5) after the charge but spotted an opening and toppled the veteran ozeki with a pulling overarm throw to move one win clear of Asashoryu at 12-0.
Beaten in a playoff by Asashoryu at the autumn meet, Hakuho is seeking his 12th title and has a chance to break Asashoryu’s record of 84 wins in a year with 14 victories.
Asashoryu paid for a lapse in concentration at the “tachiai” as Harumafuji (6-6) craftily dodged the yokozuna and thrust him to the dirt. No. 8 maegashira Tochinoshin and fifth-ranked Toyonoshima are a further win back at 10-2.
Tochinoshin, who hails from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, moved into double figures by ramming out popular maegashira Takamisakari (8-4) while Toyonoshima pulled off an upset defeat of Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (9-3).
Ninth-ranked Yoshikaze was barged out by former ozeki Miyabiyama, leaving both men with 9-3 records.
In other bouts, Estonian sekiwake Baruto (6-6) flattened ozeki Kotomitsuki (7-5) and Mongolian sekiwake Kakuryu scored his third straight win when he chased out No. 1 maegashira Aminishiki (4-8) and improved to 5-7.