Kotoshogiku plows on with promotion push


Ozeki Kotoshogiku’s drive for his second straight championship and promotion to yokozuna continued at full speed Monday, beating Yoshikaze on the second day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

The 32-year-old Kotoshogiku struggled with his balance on the tachiai under pressure from Yoshikaze (1-1). However, Kotoshogiku soon sorted things out before shoving the sekiwake from the ring, improving to 2-0 in the 15-day event at Edion Arena.

In the January meet, Kotoshogiku posted double-digit wins for only the eighth time in his 26 tournaments at sumo’s second-highest rank. A championship here will give him a chance of becoming the first Japan-born yokozuna since Wakanohana in 1998.

Yokozuna Harumafuji kept pace with Kotoshogiku in an elegant win over No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi (0-2). Harumafuji grabbed hold of a belt on the tachiai, pivoted and — using Okinoumi’s momentum — threw his opponent.

Kakuryu improved to 1-1, the yokozuna prevailing in his bout with a solid force-out of top-ranked maegashira Takayasu (0-2).

A day after suffering an opening-day upset, Hakuho (1-1) made sure his first career bout against No. 1 maegashira Kotoyuki was over in seconds.

The yokozuna knocked his man back with a left-handed slap on the charge, and followed with a right forearm that sent Kotoyuki (0-2) reeling and vulnerable to one last shove over the straw.

Terunofuji, who along with Goeido needs eight wins in Osaka to retain his ozeki ranking, defeated Bulgarian behemoth Aoiyama (1-1) but was forced to work overtime. With Aoiyama noncommittal to attack, it took a patient approach from Mongolian Terunofuji (2-0) to maneuver the No. 3 maegashira to the edge of the ring, forcing him out.

Goeido also showed the patience and balance worthy of an ozeki as he survived an energetic effort from komusubi Tochiozan (0-2).

Goeido repelled his opponents’ charge and the two came after each other again and again until the ozeki seized control. He finished with a frontal force-out to improve to 17-13 in their 30 career bouts.

Fresh off his victory over Hakuho, komusubi Takarafuji (1-1) found no opening against Kisenosato (2-0).

The veteran ozeki pressed forward relentlessly in a balanced effort, but after a failed last-ditch attempt to throw off his pursuer, Takarafuji was facing the edge of the straw and easily shoved out.