/

Title chase heats up as Kisenosato suffers first loss

Kyodo

Yokozuna Harumafuji sent Kisenosato tumbling down the ring to his first defeat as yokozuna — and left him with an injury — on Friday, the 13th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, where ozeki Terunofuji now shares the lead also with one defeat.

Harumafuji (10-3) left Kisenosato reeling with a strong low charge and the Mongolian didn’t let his opponent maneuver his way out, crushing the debutant yokozuna out and off the ring in the day’s last bout.

Kisenosato, who had notched up 12 consecutive wins, hit the ground with the left half of his body and had a difficult time getting up, looking to be in pain around his left shoulder as spectators watched at Edion Arena Osaka.

Kisenosato had his left arm in a sling and was taken to a hospital soon after. The doctor who examined Kisenosato right after the bout in the dressing room said the wrestler didn’t think it was a dislocation, but was told he “cannot move” that part of his body as there is pain and he is worried about repercussions from doing so.

Harumafuji, who made his debut in the same tourney as Kisenosato in November 2004, made it 37-24 in their top-flight career record but was worried about his good rival.

“Is Kise all right?” said Harumafuji first thing after the bout. “He’s someone I always look forward to wrestling with. I was focused on having an intense bout that would get the fans excited.”

Kisenosato, the first Japanese-born yokozuna in 19 years, has so far spent a near injury-free career, missing just a single bout in January 2014.

Harumafuji’s win gave a title boost to his countryman Terunofuji, who earlier outlasted yokozuna Kakuryu by using his big frame to his full advantage.

Kakuryu was on the front foot briefly and grabbed a double-handed underarm belt hold, limiting Terunofuji to loose overarm grips in the process. But Terunofuji did not budge and gradually forced his smaller counterpart toward the edge before hoisting and sending the yokozuna over the straw bales.

Kisenosato’s stablemate forced Yoshikaze (8-5) on the back foot with strong thrusts to the throat, but the sekiwake never seemed comfortable with his diminutive opponent and was ousted on a swift counter.

Takayasu forced fourth-ranked maegashira Yoshikaze (8-5) onto his back foot with strong thrusts to the throat, but the sekiwake never seemed comfortable with his diminutive opponent and was ousted on a swift counter.

No. 10 maegashira Tochiozan (10-3) also dropped out of the race with his second defeat in as many days after he was shoved out of the ring by fifth-ranked Endo (7-6).

Sekiwake Kotoshogiku’s immediate return to ozeki is still on after he pushed out komusubi Shodai (4-9) for his eighth win.

Kotoshogiku, who dropped to sekiwake after two consecutive losing records, can return to ozeki if he wins his two remaining bouts to secure 10 wins.