OSAKA – Promotion-chasing Baruto was handed a shock setback in his bid for yokozuna by fellow ozeki Kotooshu, crashing out of a tie for the lead on the 11th day of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.
Yokozuna Hakuho, meanwhile, was back in killer mode with some crafty handiwork in a demolition of Kotoshogiku to retain his share of the lead in a two-way tie with sekiwake Kakuryu with four days left in Osaka. Baruto, ozeki Harumafuji and rank-and-filer Shotenro sit one back at 9-2.
In the day’s penultimate match, Estonian Baruto never got inside for a firm grip on his rival’s mawashi and paid dearly for his slowness, when Bulgarian Kotooshu (7-4) latched on for a powerful grip of his own before tackling his rival over the edge to a second loss at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Baruto, who won the New Year meet in January, is making a run at yokozuna, and needs to at least remain in contention for the title for any serious consideration for a move to sumo’s ultimate rank.
Hakuho held Kotoshogiku (7-4) at bay as the pair tussled for leverage and perfectly timed getting his left hand on the mawashi for an outside grip, allowing him to grind his opponent over the straw bales.
Hakuho, seeking his 22nd career title, takes on Kotooshu on Thursday.
Kakuryu, who has had an impressive tournament thus far, defeating the yokozuna and three ozeki, got into a scuffle with Myogiryu (3-8), but he emerged with the victory after absorbing a fierce attack to pull his opponent down with a shoulder throw.
In an all-ozeki match-up, Harumafuji outflanked Kisenosato (6-5) after escaping his rival’s grasp and sending the Japanese wrestler tumbling into the ringside seats.
Shotenro, a No. 16 maegashira, fell out of a share of the lead when he was upended in a frontal force out by Toyohibiki, who improved to 7-4.