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Hakuho still in charge after comfortable win

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo News

NAGOYA — Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho devoured in-form countryman Kakuryu in a comfortable win on Monday, retaining his share of the lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho improved to 9-0 at the 15-day meet and sits in a tie with surprise package Homasho. Kakuryu, a former sekiwake, fell to his first defeat of the tournament.

The lone yokozuna, who is on an amazing 41-bout winning run dating back to the New Year meet in January, is the prohibitive favorite to claim his 15th career title.

In the day’s final bout, Kakuryu tried his best to get a belt grip on the yokozuna but it was Hakuho who leaned inside from the right and grabbed a fistful of the No. 6 maegashira’s belt before launching him into the second row of ringside seats.

In an all-ozeki encounter, a partisan crowd chanted calls of “Kaio” but Estonian Baruto got a right hand inside on his rival’s mawashi before planting him gently outside the ring. Both men sit at 6-3.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (7-2) suffered a second straight loss after he backed over the edge with little resistance against newly promoted komusubi Tochinoshin of Georgia (3-6).

Mongolian ozeki Harumafuji was never fooled by compatriot Tokitenku, who unleashed his charge with time still remaining on the referee’s clock, quickly wrapping up the No. 3 maegashira with a textbook frontal takeout.

Homasho pounded Mokonami (5-4) with a series of slaps to the chest before sending him off the raised ring with one hard shove.

Sekiwake Kisenosato was heaved over the edge by Russian Aran in a lopsided affair to drop to a 6-3 mark. Aran, a No. 2 maegashira, improved to 5-4.