FUKUOKA – Hakuho put one hand on his first Emperor’s Cup since March as the yokozuna outclassed Kisenosato with two days left at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.
In the bat of an eyelash, Hakuho bulldozed ozeki Kisenosato (9-4) en route to his 12th victory. A win over ozeki Kakuryu — who the Mongolian holds a 23-2 career record against — on Saturday will give him his first title since the Spring Basho in Osaka.
Sixth-ranked maegashira Kyokutenho seized a matchup of 9-3 wrestlers against Tochiozan, tossing the No. 1 to keep his outside title hopes alive in what has become a two-horse race for the year’s last championship.
Harumafuji officially dropped out of contention after losing his third straight bout to Kakuryu (8-4), who consigned the new yokozuna to his fourth defeat of the 15-day tournament.
Harumafuji had owned Kakuryu for his career with 17 wins from 25 previous fights, but the Mongolian struggled to overcome his bigger opponent, going down by yoritaoshi as he failed to impress in his debut at sumo’s highest rank.
Chiyotairyu (9-4) also fell out of the race after the 15th-ranked maegashira was floored by No. 1 Shohozan (9-4).
Kotoshogiku, needing just one more win to keep his ozeki rank, lost for the second straight day to stand at 7-6 as the Sadogatake wrestler was plowed out of the ring by sekiwake Myogiryu (5-8).
Former ozeki Kotomitsuki, who was expelled in 2007 for betting on baseball games, on Thursday received a settlement offer from the Japan Sumo Association, whom he is suing.
The wrestler, whose real name is Keiji Tamiya, is suing the JSA for unfair dismissal and seeking the restoration of his status as an ozeki, the sport’s second highest rank.
Although the monetary amount of the settlement at Tokyo District Court was not made public, Tamiya’s side said the money was not an issue.
Another hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 21.