OSAKA – Rising star Endo turned the tables on Osunaarashi at the last second to send his opponent to a first defeat, leaving yokozuna pair Hakuho and Harumafuji in a two-way tie for the lead as the second week of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament kicked off Sunday.
Hakuho and Harumafuji improved to 8-0 while Osunaarashi and promotion-chasing ozeki Kakuryu are one off the pace at 7-1 going into the final week of the 15-day competition.
Kakuryu, who is tasked with winning the Osaka meet with at least 13 wins for consideration for sumo’s top rank, pounded Goeido with a maelstrom of slaps before knocking the sekiwake over the edge to a second defeat.
Osunaarashi, sumo’s first African-born rikishi, appeared to have the advantage as he got his right hand on the top of the mawashi and his left on Endo’s shoulder before charging his opponent to the edge.
But Endo, who had gone 0-4 against both yokozuna and two of the ozeki before rebounding with four straight wins, darted deftly to the right with his back facing the edge and brought the Egyptian down for a narrow “tsukiotoshi” victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Bodymaker Colosseum.
Hakuho patiently took his time against Takayasu (3-5), needing several attempts to change hand positions before he deployed a left-handed overarm throw to grab the win.
Takayasu seemed to change the momentum when he got both hands on the back of the yokozuna’s mawashi, but Hakuho remained completely composed as he wiggled out of the grip and pulled the No. 3 maegashira to the dirt with his left hand.
Hakuho is seeking his 29th career victory and second title in a row. It would also be his fifth consecutive victory at the Spring basho, matching the all-time mark held by Kitanoumi.
In stark contrast, Harumafuji, who missed the entire New Year basho through injury, made lightning-speed work of Kaisei (1-7), sending the Brazilian sprawling with an overarm throw as soon as the bout got under way.
Kisenosato, who is facing demotion for the first time after finishing 7-8 in his second run at yokozuna in January, ushered out No. 2 maegashira Tochinowaka (2-6) to move within the two wins necessary to keep his ozeki rank.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku, who is nursing an injury to his right shoulder, was taken by surprise when Shohozan (3-5) moved to the side at the start of their match and was later pulled down with an underarm throw to suffer his third loss.
Bulgarian Kotooshu (1-7) continued his shaky style of sumo, falling to his seventh loss in a row at the hands of Toyonoshima (4-4). The former ozeki has become a shadow of himself since failing in his bid to return to sumo’s second-highest rank at the New Year basho.
In one of the more entertaining bouts, little man Satoyama (3-5) got the best of Georgian man-mountain Gagamaru (3-5), tossing down his opponent with a well-worked “shitatenage” underarm technique.
Gagamaru appeared to have Satoyama on the ropes as he blasted him with a series of slaps and thrusts to start the match, but Satoyama dug himself under his opponent’s armpits as the Georgian tried an ineffectual leg trip before being dumped to the dirt.