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Hakuho maintains lead

Kyodo

Hakuho closed in on a record-extending 36th career championship title with a win over fellow Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday.

Hakuho never gave Kakuryu (8-5) a hope in the day’s penultimate bout at Edion Arena Osaka, following up an opening smash to the face with a bear hug and marching him out to stay one win clear heading in the final weekend of the 15-day basho.

Hakuho improved to 12-1, while ozeki pair Kisenosato and Goeido kept up the chase with 11th wins.

Kisenosato was all business against Aoiyama, getting both hands on the Bulgarian-born No. 3 maegashira’s belt and plowing him out to an eighth loss.

Osaka native Goeido, who has impressed after coming into the tournament needing eight wins to avoid demotion from sumo’s second-highest rank, gave his home fans plenty to cheer about as he dispatched Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji with minimal fuss.

Terunofuji, who also started the meet with his rank on the line, dropped to 8-5.

In the day’s last matchup, Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji (9-4) tossed down New Year Basho champion Kotoshogiku, who slumped to a fifth defeat.

Elsewhere, sixth-ranked Myogiryu (10-3) had his title hopes hit as 13th-ranked Mitakeumi turned the tables on the former sekiwake and barged him over the straw ridge for an eighth victory and a winning record.