One false move and it was all over for Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho in a shock defeat to countryman Kakuryu at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.
Estonian ozeki Baruto emerged as the improbable sole leader after Hakuho suffered his first loss, improving his record to a perfect 10-0 with a dismantling of Toyonoshima at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Hakuho was brought crashing back down to earth in the day’s final after Kakuryu got his hand on the yokozuna’s mawashi and spun him like a top before heaving his opponent over for his first win against a yokozuna.
Kakuryu, who improved to 7-3, won his first bout in 21 meetings against the lone yokozuna. Things got off to an ominous start for Hakuho when the yokozuna, who is seeking his third straight title, stood up once to delay the clash.
Hakuho, who fell out of the lead for the first time as yokozuna on the 10th day, on Wednesday faces ozeki Kisenosato, who ended his 63-bout winning streak at the 2010 Kyushu Basho.
Baruto got his huge right arm on the back of Toyonoshima’s mawashi out of the crouch and slammed the sekiwake (3-7) with an earth-shattering overarm throw to remain spotless.
Ozeki debutant Kisenosato claimed bragging rights in a rumble with rival ozeki Kotoshogiku on Tuesday, remaining one behind Baruto in a tie with Hakuho. Harumafuji and fellow ozeki Kotooshu sit in a group of four two off the pace at 8-2.