FUKUOKA – Bogeyman Kisenosato brought Hakuho crashing back down to earth Saturday, sending the yokozuna to his first defeat on the 14th day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
With the defeat Hakuho, who is gunning for his 28th career title, fell back into a share of the lead with rival yokozuna Harumafuji, who overpowered ozeki Kakuryu in the day’s finale.
Hakuho and Harumafuji at 13-1 will meet in a final-day showdown for all the marbles on Sunday.
Ozeki Kisenosato’s 10th career victory against Hakuho and second straight against a yokozuna is likely to put him on the fast track for another bid at promotion to sumo’s highest rank.
Hakuho and Kisenosato got into a number of intense stare downs in the pre-bout warm-up with the temperature reaching mercurial levels in front of a packed house at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
When the exchange began, Kisenosato got a quick jump to get his left hand around the yokozuna’s mawashi and came storming forward before dumping Hakuho over the edge with a powerful overarm throw as the crowd burst into jubilant cheers.
Kisenosato (12-2) improved to 10-32 in career bouts against his nemesis and reminded Hakuho, once again, that he will always be a thorn in his side. The match was reminiscent of the showdown when Kisenosato famously ended Hakuho’s record-chasing streak at 63 bouts at the 2010 Kyushu Basho.
Harumafuji, who is seeking his sixth career title, rebounded from the previous day’s loss to Kisenosato with a clinical frontal takeout of ozeki Kakuryu (9-5). The yokozuna got both hands wrapped around for a firm belt grip and drove his man over the straw bales when Kakuryu tried to switch hand positions.
Hakuho, who is trying to become the only wrestler aside from Taiho to win five straight tournaments for a second time, holds a 26-15 advantage in career bouts against Harumafuji.
In an early bout, Osunaarashi, sumo’s first African-born wrestler, was sent backpedaling out by No. 6 maegashira Ikioi, who improved to an outstanding 10-4 mark. The Egyptian wrestler can post a winning record if he can beat Kaisei on Sunday.