NAGOYA – Hakuho and Harumafuji will face off in a winner-takes-all bout on the final day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho made ozeki rival Kisenosato pay for his overzealousness, and Harumafuji outfoxed Bulgarian Kotooshu Saturday to both improve to 14-0, setting up a decisive clash for Sunday.
It is the first time since the 1983 Nagoya Basho that two undefeated wrestlers will meet on the final day of regulation to decide the championship.
Hakuho, who holds a 22-11 career advantage over Harumafuji, is seeking his 23rd career title. Harumafuji is the defending champion in Nagoya and is aiming for his third title.
Harumafuji wasted no time with Kotooshu (8-6), zeroing in on his rival’s mawashi with laser focus and shoving him quickly over the straw bales with a one-two pound to the back.
But Hakuho’s match against Kisenosato got off to a jittery start with his opponent making a false start, clearly irritating the yokozuna as he pushed Kisenosato back across the line to set up.
The ozeki jumped too soon again and on the third start Hakuho simply moved to his left with a “henka” maneuver as Kisenosato (10-4) fell to the dirt at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
In another ozeki matchup, Kotoshogiku wriggled free from the clutches of Estonian Baruto (8-6) and wrapped both arms around his rival before ushering him over the edge for a 10th win.
Goeido (7-7), who pulled out earlier in the day with an injured left oblique, forfeited his match against ozeki Kakuryu, who automatically posted his eighth win.
Summer Basho winner Kyokutenho, who has had a nightmare two weeks, finally emerged from a dark and lonely tunnel, smacking down Sadanofuji (4-10) for his first win here.
The crowd gave the Mongolian veteran a thunderous round of applause as he walked back to the dressing room
In an earlier match, Brazilian-born Kaisei, who is ailing from lower back problems, notched double-digit wins when he toppled Georgian Tochinoshin (8-6) over the edge.