OSAKA – Hakuho ambushed would-be challenger Tokitenku on Saturday, firing off a violent assault before the time limit for the bout to begin to ensure himself of a seventh consecutive win at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho, who is aiming for his 24th career Emperor’s Cup, improved to 7-0 heading into the second week of competition in Osaka, while only one wrestler, rank-and-filer Jokoryu, was at 6-1. Rival yokozuna Harumafuji, who beat up on local boy Ikioi in the day’s finale, leads a group of 10 wrestlers two behind at 5-2.
Tokitenku (2-5), who had only beaten Hakuho once in 16 previous career bouts, was actually the one who considered charging before time in the penultimate bout at Bodymaker Colosseum.
But ever wary, Hakuho was never fooled and went on a bloodthirsty rampage to blast his man into the ringside seats, despite a slight hesitation from the gyoji once the bout had commenced.
Harumafuji, who is gunning for back-to-back titles after winning the New Year basho with a perfect 15-0 mark, could not get his left hand on Ikioi’s mawashi after the initial charge and uncorked a vicious succession of slaps to his opponent’s face.
Stunning the No. 3 maegashira into submission, Harumafuji finally got a left hand on the front of Ikioi’s (2-5) mawashi and tackled him to the dohyo surface.
Two ozeki walked away unscathed, with Kakuryu taking it on the chin for the three remaining wrestlers at sumo’s second-highest rank.
Kotoshogiku (4-3) made mincemeat of Aminishiki (1-6), bulldozing the komusubi in a matter of seconds, but Kisenosato (4-3) had to dig deep in his energy reserves to upend a feisty Shohozan, who went down kicking and screaming to a 5-2 mark.
Mongolian Kakuryu (4-3) was brushed aside like a rag doll by little man Toyonoshima (5-2), who unleashed a salvo of shoves to send the ozeki retreating over the edge without a fight.
Estonian sekiwake Baruto (5-2) took a step back in the title race when he failed to get a firm grip on the mawashi of Takayasu (3-4), who sent the bigger man flying through the air with an overarm throw near the edge.
Goeido made a narrow escape when he deployed an ill-advised underarm throw on Tochiozan (3-4) while teetering off balance, walking away with his fifth win of the campaign.
No. 2 maegashira Chiyotairyu, who beat Harumafuji on the fourth day but injured himself when he was slammed by Hakuho on Friday, pulled out from the meet with a broken right second metatarsal bone.
No. 13 maegashira Tochinowaka, winless over the first six days, also withdrew with an injured right hamstring.