It’s official: Kisenosato has Hakuho’s number in a big way.
Yokozuna Hakuho was thrown to a shock defeat at the hands of Kisenosato for the second straight meet at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday, falling to his first loss since having his 63-bout winning streak stopped by the same opponent last November.
In the day’s final at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hakuho never even got rolling as Kisenosato (7-4) stood firmly before the lone yokozuna before sending him out with a few well-placed shoves.
Hakuho, who normally gets inside his opponent for his favored right-handed belt grip, had his arm knocked away immediately after the faceoff before the sekiwake plowed him down with a relentless salvo of shoves to the face and chest.
Hakuho, who is seeking his sixth consecutive title, still leads the 15-day meet with a 10-1 mark with four days remaining but he can no longer be considered invincible — at least, in the eyes of one man.
“I have to say that I wasn’t moving the way I expected,” said Hakuho, who was stopped by Kisenosato in Kyushu just six wins shy of the all-time consecutive wins record held by yokozuna legend Futabayama.
Asked whether Kisenosato gives him trouble as an opponent, Hakuho said, “It seems to be the case.” Hakuho had been on a 23-bout winning streak since his loss in Kyushu. “I feel somewhat different about this defeat and the one in Kyushu. But this is not the time to be saying this or that. I have to reflect on this loss,” he said.
Kisenosato said he didn’t remember much of the match. “I don’t clearly remember what happened. It just seemed to go in my favor. I think that the faceoff was the key point today,” he said. “For me there wasn’t any pressure really because everyone expects me to lose.”
Just one off the pace are ozeki Kotooshu and rank-and-filers Tochinonada and Okinoumi at 9-2.
Estonian Baruto slipped to his third defeat against Kotoshogiku after he came too high out of the crouch and was bellied out by the sekiwake.