FUKUOKA – Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho overpowered ozeki Kotooshu and closed in on his 12th title at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
With closest rival Asashoryu slumping to another shock defeat, Hakuho (13-0) moved two wins clear and can secure the Emperor’s Cup with a victory over ozeki Kotomitsuki on Saturday.
Kotooshu (9-4) had Hakuho on the rails after an epic tussle for belt control at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, but the yokozuna weathered the storm and prevailed after flooring his Bulgarian opponent with a beltless arm throw.
In beating Kotooshu, Hakuho also matched the record of 84 wins in a single year set by fellow grand champion Asashoryu in 2005.
Still licking his wounds after Thursday’s defeat to ozeki Harumafuji, Asashoryu got more than he bargained for in the day’s finale, allowing Kotomitsuki (8-5) to get both hands on the front of his belt and shove him over the straw bales.
Asashoryu shares second place at 11-2 with Tochinoshin and Toyonoshima.
Tochinoshin, an eighth-ranked maegashira from Georgia, emerged victorious after throwing down second-ranked Kotoshogiku (8-5) and No. 5 maegashira Toyonoshima followed suit in the next bout, a flurry of juicy shots sending top-ranked Takekaze (5-8) backpedaling out of the dohyo.
Buoyed by Thursday’s win, Harumafuji (7-6) silenced a partisan crowd in the day’s most entertaining bout, spinning Fukuoka-born ozeki Kaio (7-6) around and out after a mid-ring slugfest.
Estonian giant Baruto (7-6) opted for an armlock throw instead of his favored forklift truck technique to topple top-ranked Aminishiki (4-9).