NAGOYA – Harumafuji took a giant leap toward capturing his second career title, beating rival ozeki Baruto to stay undefeated with two days remaining at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
The only obstacle now standing in Harumafuji’s way is yokozuna Hakuho, who escaped sudden death against Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, improving to a 12-1 mark to keep his hopes alive of winning an unprecedented eighth consecutive title.
The Mongolian pair will meet in a showdown on Saturday, with Harumafuji having the chance to claim the title outright with a win over the lone yokozuna.
Hakuho must beat Harumafuji to have a shot of winning his career 20th Emperor’s Cup on the final day on Sunday.
Back in the ring, Harumafuji dodged to the side against Baruto before getting inside for a firm belt grip and sending the Estonian goliath twisting backwards to the dirt at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. Baruto slipped to his third defeat.
Hakuho relinquished a belt grip to Kotooshu (8-5) immediately at the face-off, and was nearly sent retreating over the edge before executing a well-timed underarm throw while teetering on the edge.
Ozeki hopeful and yokozuna killer Kotoshogiku, meanwhile, made a fatal error of judgment against Okinoumi (7-6), who deployed an armbar technique to send the sekiwake sliding to the clay surface.
Kotoshogiku (10-3), who beat Hakuho on the 11th day and roughly needs 12 wins to be considered for ozeki promotion, slipped awkwardly off balance when he tried his trademark grind out maneuver.
Mongolian Kakuryu, who has already defeated three ozeki at this meet, disposed of Wakakoyu (4-9) in a textbook frontal force out to post a winning record.
Fellow sekiwake Kisenosato backpedaled against Aminishiki (2-11) but recovered to send the No. 3 maegashira packing with a salvo of shoves to also improve to 8-5.
Tochiozan (8-5) got his arm locked in Shotenro’s (6-7) ironclad vice and was abruptly shown the exit, while Georgian Gagamaru (4-9) was twisted down by Sagatsukasa who improved to 7-6.
Homasho attempted an ill-advised neck throw on the slippery Takayasu (8-5) after the initial charge and narrowly toppled his opponent over the edge for his 10th win.
Brazilian-born Kaisei suffered a seventh defeat when he was sent sprawling with an underarm throw by Yoshikaze (5-8).