OSAKA – Promotion-chasing Kakuryu kept front-running yokozuna duo Hakuho and Harumafuji in his sights with an eighth win against Takayasu at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Kakuryu stood his ground as Takayasu attempted a throw after getting a firm grip on the belt, and the Mongolian countered to send out the third-ranked maegashira and stay one win off the pace at 8-1.
Kakuryu is likely to need at least 13 wins and the championship to be considered for promotion to sumo’s top rank.
Mongolians Hakuho and Harumafuji remained the only unbeaten wrestlers after both posted comfortable wins. Five wrestlers including ozeki Kisenosato have 7-2 marks.
Harumfuji, who has looked sharp despite missing the January meet with injury, made short work of Kotooshu, slapping the Bulgarian sekiwake down with ease to sentence him to a losing 1-8 record.
Hakuho had an equally easy day at the office in the day’s last bout, ramming out sekiwake Tochiozan (4-5) to stay on track for his 29th career title and a second in a row.
Kisenosato moved within one win of retaining his rank as he withstood a strong charge from Kotoshogiku (5-4), twice coming back from the brink to muscle out his fellow ozeki.
Kisenosato has his rank on the line here after finishing 7-8 in his second failed bid for yokozuna promotion in January.
Sekiwake Goeido is also two adrift after putting Endo on his back with a powerful shove, saddling the popular No. 1 maegashira with a fifth defeat.
Endo had gone 0-4 against both yokozuna and two ozeki, but rebounded with four straight wins before his latest setback.
Earlier in the day, No. 11 Egyptian maegashira Osunaarashi came off second best in a slugfest against Takekaze to slip to his second consecutive defeat and drop two behind the leaders.
Sixth-ranked Takekaze is also 7-2, as is 15th-ranked Takanoiwa, who beat Jokoryu (4-5).
No. 11 Egyptian maegashira Osunaarashi revealed Monday that he hurt his thigh in his first defeat of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament the previous day, an injury that may lead to his withdrawal from the 15-day meet in Osaka.
Osunaarashi, 22, hurt his right thigh in the loss to rising star Endo on the eighth day and suffered a second straight defeat against Takekaze on Monday. He got the thigh checked out before Monday’s action and said a doctor told him he had torn two muscles and urged him to withdraw from the tournament.
Osunaarashi, sumo’s first African born wrestler, will decide in the morning whether or not to wrestle in his next scheduled bout on Tuesday against Chiyotoori.
Osunaarashi (7-2) decided to fight against Takekaze despite being told not to push himself by his stablemaster Otake and he was limping in the dressing room after the defeat.