OSAKA – Estonian giant Baruto suffered what could be a fatal third loss in his bid to earn promotion to yokozuna, falling two wins off the pace at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho and sekiwake Kakuryu each picked up victories to remain in a share of the lead with dueling 11-1 records with three days remaining at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Hakuho held Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu at bay before deploying a well-timed powerful overarm throw to defeat Kotooshu in the day’s finale.
Hakuho, seeking his 22nd career Emperor’s Cup to tie former yokozuna Takanohana for fifth on the all-time list, will face ozeki Kisenosato on Friday. Kotooshu dropped to 7-5.
Kakuryu absorbed a hard charge from Shotenro (9-3) and calmly ushered the 16th-ranked maegashira over the edge.
Harumafuji stayed one behind the leaders as he improved to 10-2 with a bulldozing of Tochiozan (4-8) in the penultimate bout.
Baruto, needing to win the tournament or at least stay in contention throughout the duration 15-day meet for a chance at sumo’s ultimate rank, was sent flying out of the dohyo by Kotoshogiku (8-4) in an all-ozeki affair.
Baruto lost his second straight bout, having fallen to Kotooshu a day earlier.
The New Year meet winner will attempt to keep his promotion hopes alive when he takes on Harumafuji on Friday.
Kisenosato blasted out Toyonoshima for his seventh win. Toyonoshima fell to 8-4.