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Dominating Baruto chalks up another victory

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo

Baruto is building his case as the man standing between Hakuho and his third consecutive championship title — and the Estonian ozeki hasn’t looked this dominant since his debut at sumo’s second-highest rank.

Baruto overpowered rank-and-filer Kitataiki on Sunday to remain undefeated with an 8-0 record in a share of the lead with the lone yokozuna as the second week of the 15-day basho kicked off in front of another full house at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Ozeki pair Kisenosato and Kotooshu remained one behind the co-leaders at 7-1.

Baruto, who won eight in a row for the first time since his debut at ozeki at the 2010 summer basho, got his left hand on Kitataiki’s (1-7) mawashi and calmly executed an overarm throw to keep a clean slate.

“I got an outside grip on his mawashi. I wanted to grab it from the face-off and had a good look at it,” said Baruto, who is still in search of his first title. “We still have a long way to go, so I’m not thinking about the title right now. It’s better not to do that.”

Hakuho, whose 22nd career title victory would place him in a tie with former yokozuna Takanohana, took his longest thus far to dispatch of third-ranked Takayasu (4-4) in the day’s final bout but pulled down the 21-year-old with a slap down to remain unbeaten.

“Today I wrestled and took a good look at my opponent,” said Hakuho, who took almost 10 seconds to dispose of the No. 3 maegashira, having needed just one second to devour Kitataiki like a pitbull the previous day. “He made a hard charge at me, so it was a good bout.”

Asked his thoughts on Baruto’s outstanding sumo thus far, Hakuho said, “We’re already at the halfway point. I think that he is fulfilling his responsibility as ozeki.”

Ozeki Kotoshogiku (4-4), who has gotten off to a nightmare start to 2012, was again on the losing end as he was sent sprawling onto his belly by Miyabiyama, who improved to 2-6 in his return to sumo’s fourth rank of komusubi.