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Hakuho survives scare to keep perfect record

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho nearly slipped up but regained his balance, wore down his opponent and maintained his perfect record on the eighth day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Before another full house at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the popular Mongolian didn’t disappoint although an early effort to throw Takarafuji (1-7) failed.

But the No. 3 maegashira lacked the resourcefulness to capitalize on Hakuho’s instant vulnerability and soon found himself levered out of the ring.

Hakuho, who is chasing a fourth straight championship and the 27th of his career, is all alone at the top of the heap at 8-0, while the ranks of challengers with a single defeat were culled from three to one, with ozeki Kisenosato alone at 7-1.

Yokozuna Harumafuji remained in a group of wrestlers two wins back of Hakuho by bulldozing No. 3 maegashira Chiyotairyu (2-6) out of the ring with a minimum of fuss.

Kisenosato was forced back on the tachiai, but his tactical withdrawal paid big dividends as he slipped his right hand onto Toyohibiki’s belt and seized control of the bout. A few shoves later and the No. 4 maegashira was on the bales and over in a frontal force-out that left his record at 4-4.

With Kotooshu out of action on Sunday as a precautionary measure after hurting his hamstring, Kotoshogiku got the remaining ozeki threesome off to an awkward start when he blasted out of his initial charge only for top maegashira Shohozan to dart to his right in a “henka” maneuver. The ozeki crashed to the sandy surface to suffer his third defeat.

“In the past, he”s always gone to my left, so I was expecting that,” Shohozan said.

Kakuryu, who started the day with one loss, came up empty on the tachiai and was instantly on the defensive in a slapping battle against Myogiryu (4-4). The sekiwake showed better balance and was able to maintain the initiative and shove the ozeki out to his second loss.

Rank-and-filer Yoshikaze, who started the day in the trailing pack with one loss, suffered a comprehensive defeat to Kaisei, who won his fifth straight to leave both wrestlers at 6-2.