OSAKA – After wrapping up his 24th career title with two days to spare at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, Hakuho is now just one win away from going 15-0 for an unprecedented ninth time in his illustrious career.
The yokozuna staved off a feisty challenge from ozeki Kakuryu in the day’s finale to roll to 14-0 and only has to beat rival yokozuna Harumafuji on the final day Sunday to etch his name in the record book as the only man to achieve such a feat.
In stark contrast, Harumafuji has begun another unraveling reminiscent of his famous meltdown on his yokozuna debut last November, plopping to his fifth loss at the hands of bogeyman Kisenosato.
Hakuho got a firm grip on his Kakuryu’s (8-6) mawashi but his opponent slipped out momentarily, only for the yokozuna to uncork a quick succession of slaps to his face before chasing down the ozeki and upending him over the straw bales.
Harumafuji, however, was a pushover, to say the least.
After the yokozuna’s ill-advised move to the right at the tachiai, Kisenosato (9-5) came charging in like a bull and crushed his man to the dirt in dramatic fashion as the packed crowd at Bodymaker Colosseum let out a collective gasp.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku picked up an eighth win with a frontal force out of Shohozan (7-7).
Local favorite Goeido (9-5) bulldozed Okinoumi, sending the No. 7 maegashira, who had been in the running for the title until Friday, to a fourth defeat.
Estonian Baruto (8-6) was outfoxed by Aminishiki (6-8), who pulled the sekiwake’s arm once to bring him off balance before rushing in to back his opponent out of the ring.
Baruto was hoping to notch double digits here as it would have gone a long way towards putting him back on track for a return to ozeki after his failed bid in January, but he will miss the mark.