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Hakuho, Kisenosato win to keep title within reach

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho dispensed with Kotooshu, and Kisenosato did a hatchet job on Aran to improve to 11-0 with four days remaining at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

Hakuho and Kisenosato are tied for the lead, while ozeki Kakuryu trails one behind the co-leaders at 10-1 after beating No. 4 maegashira Aoiyama (5-6). Yokozuna Harumafuji sits at 9-2 after winning his sixth in a row with a dismantling of ozeki Kotoshogiku.

In the day’s finale, Hakuho quickly got his right hand around the back of the bigger man before wrenching him to the dohyo with a perfectly timed left-handed overarm throw at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Kotooshu (6-5), still needs two wins to save his ozeki status.

Kisenosato, who will meet Harumafuji on Thursday, never gave No. 3 maegashira Aran (4-7) a chance as he uncorked a series of throat grabs with his right and calmly sent his opponent backpedaling out with a final shove to the chest.

Hakuho surpassed former yokozuna Wajima for fourth on the all-time list with his 467th career win at sumo’s highest rank. On Tuesday, he posted double-digit victories in his 38th consecutive tournament — a record high.

Hakuho is seeking his 25th career title and first in Tokyo since the 2011 autumn basho. He faces Kakuryu on Thursday.

Kisenosato extended his streak to a career-best 14 wins starting from the 13th day of the spring basho.

The Naruto stable wrestler is trying to become the first Japanese title winner since Tochiazuma triumphed at the 2006 New Year basho — the anticipation of a nation surely to reach critical mass over the final four days.

The last time Hakuho was undefeated along with an ozeki in the final five days was at the Nagoya basho last year where he lost to Harumafuji on the final day and missed out on the title.