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Hakuho continues march to 24th title

Kyodo

Hakuho inched a step closer to his 24th career title with a trouncing of ozeki Kotoshogiku on Wednesday, improving to an outstanding 11-0 at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

With rank-and-filer Okinoumi trailing at 9-2 and rival yokozuna Harumafuji in a trio of rikishi at three defeats, Hakuho will likely claim the tournament hardware before the weekend is out at the 15-day Osaka meet.

The last time Kotoshogiku beat Hakuho was at the 2011 Autumn Basho, and Hakuho has gone on an 8-0 rampage since to improve to an eye-popping 34-3 in career bouts against the ozeki.

Hakuho, who a day earlier tied former yokozuna Kitanoumi on the all-time list by notching double-digit wins in 37 straight tournaments for the most in the elite class, was poetry in motion as he staved off an attack by the ozeki in the day’s penultimate bout at Bodymaker Colosseum.

Kotoshogiku gained a momentary advantage when he got his left hand on the outside of the yokozuna’s mawashi.

But Hakuho was like quicksilver as he switched hand positions to get his left on the outside and shook off Kotoshogiku’s (7-4) grip before grinding him over the straw bales.

Harumafuji, who won the New Year Basho with a spotless 15-0 mark, dismantled local favorite Goeido (7-4) in the day’s finale, administering a left-leaning, hidari-yotsu grip on his opponent before slamming the sekiwake over the edge with an overarm throw at the last second.

Baruto, meanwhile, gave Georgian Tochinoshin (4-7) a sumo clinic, slipping his left hand quickly under the mawashi for hidari-yotsu before heaving his man over the edge for his seventh win.

The Estonian sekiwake is trying to resurrect himself after his failed bid to return to ozeki at the New Year Basho in January, and posting double digits will go a long way toward that cause.

Kakuryu deployed a textbook force out on Tokitenku (3-8) to move to 6-5, while fellow ozeki Kisenosato (7-4) won his third straight bout, manhandling little-man Toyonoshima (7-4) with a quick-fire frontal shoveout.

No. 7 maegashira Okinoumi stayed in the chase for the title with a hard-fought win over Chiyonokuni (5-6) in an earlier match.