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Kakuryu stays in contention for title

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho rallied to keep his slate clean with a 12th win and remained on a collision course with compatriot and ozeki Kakuryu at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

Hakuho got more than he bargained for against Goeido in the last bout of the day at Ryogoku Kokugikan, but recovered from a wobbly start and sent the sekiwake down to his seventh defeat with a textbook uwatenage overarm throw to keep his sights on a 28th championship title.

The tournament has essentially become a two-horse race between Hakuho and Kakuryu, who posted a convincing win to improve to 11-1. Endo and Yoshikaze are two wins further behind at 9-3.

Kakuryu stayed in the hunt for his first title with a controlling win over Shohozan, putting the No. 5 maegashira on the back foot with some juicy neck thrusts and hauling him down by the back of the neck. Shohozan dropped to 8-4.

Kotooshu (7-5), meanwhile, kept his hopes of a swift return to ozeki alive, sending ozeki Kisenosato to a fifth loss with a well-worked uwatenage throw.

Demoted to sekiwake after he pulled out early on in the Kyushu basho in November due to injury, Kotooshu still needs to win all three of his remaining bouts to move back up to sumo’s second-highest rank.

The defeat served as a fresh blow for Kisenosato, who has come up short again in his latest bid for promotion to yokozuna with a string of costly defeats to lower ranked wrestlers.

Kotoshogiku, meanwhile, retained his ozeki status with an eighth win by outmuscling No. 10 maegashira Endo.

Egyptian-born Osunaarashi got his first winning record in the top flight, beating 15th-ranked Tokushoryu (7-5).