Hakuho bounces back; Harumafuji maintains lead

Kyodo

Hakuho rebounded from the previous day’s shock defeat with a shellacking of Toyonoshima on Wednesday while rival yokozuna Harumafuji left more destruction in his wake after a demolition of Kyokutenho at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Harumafuji features in a leading quartet with 4-0 records. Hakuho, who is seeking his second consecutive title and 24th career championship, is one behind the co-leaders in a logjam of nine rikishi at 3-1.

Hakuho, who was shoved out by Myogiryu for his first loss on Tuesday, came storming back with a vengeance in the day’s penultimate match at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The yokozuna shrugged off the angst of what was turning into a jinx after all four of sumo’s second highest rank of ozeki tumbled like dominoes before his match.

Hakuho disenabled Toyonoshima with a crushing blow at the tachiai and picked up steam when his opponent tried switching grips, knocking him over into the ringside seats with a left-handed thrusting attack.

Harumafuji, who suffered the indignity of a 9-6 debacle in his debut at yokozuna at the Kyushu basho in November, almost slipped on a banana peel when his right leg momentarily came from underneath him, but he recovered quickly to bang Kyokutenho over the edge in a matter of seconds.

Yokozuna killer Myogiryu (2-2) fried his second big fish in as many days following his kinboshi over Hakuho, swatting down Kotooshu (2-2) to his second loss in a row to get his first win in five meetings against the Bulgarian ozeki.

Mongolian Kakuryu (2-2) was the second ozeki to hit the dirt, falling forward onto his hands after bogeyman Aminishiki (2-2) yanked him following a series of hard thrusts. Aminishiki improved to 14-9 in career bouts against Kakuryu.

Baruto (2-2), who needs 10 wins for a return to ozeki at the spring basho in March, won a judges’ decision against Kisenosato (2-2) after the bout was deemed too close to call — replays showing that Kisenosato’s arm touched the sand a millisecond before Baruto went over the edge.

Sekiwake Goeido (3-1) harpooned Kotoshogiku (3-1) with a thrust-down technique.