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Leader Terunofuji bolsters title hopes

KYODO

Injury-hit yokozuna Kisenosato took to the ring but was powerless to prevent his second defeat in two days at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, when ozeki Terunofuji took the sole lead with one day remaining.

Kisenosato’s participation at Edion Arena Osaka was doubtful after he landed on his left shoulder in his Friday defeat to fellow yokozuna Harumafuji. He entered the ring heavily taped ahead of his bout with Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu.

But it proved to be in vain as the 30-year-old’s early slap was easily dealt with by Kakuryu (9-5), who easily had both his hands around Kisenosato’s belt and forced him out in seconds as the crowd watched on in silence.

Kisenosato started with an impressive 12 straight wins in his yokozuna debut but now trails his Sunday opponent, Terunofuji, who got his 13th win against Kotoshogiku (8-6).

The manner of the victory drew boos from the crowd, however, as Terunofuji dodged his opponent’s charge and slapped down the onrushing sekiwake. But Terunofuji will now go into the showdown on the final day with his second title at stake.

Harumafuji suffered his fourth defeat at the hands of countryman Tamawashi (8-6). The Mongolian sekiwake secured his winning record after matching a quick charge from the yokozuna, keeping himself on the front foot before winning on a crash out as the grand champion lost his balance slightly.

Sekiwake Takayasu (11-3) ended his three-day losing streak after outlasting Takarafuji (6-8).