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Nagoya basho title chase heats up with unbeaten pair of Hakuho and Aoiyama

Kyodo

The countdown to another impressive milestone continued for yokozuna Hakuho on Friday as the co-leader made short work of Hokutofuji to preserve his unbeaten start at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

On a day when injury-hit Kisenosato became the second yokozuna and fourth wrestler in the top makuuchi division to withdraw from the tournament, Hakuho produced another classy performance in his first meeting with Hokutofuji.

The yokozuna soaked up a head charge from Hokutofuji (3-3) and disarmed the No. 2 maegashira before scoring an okuridashi (rear push-out win) that keeps him tied with No. 8 maegashira Aoiyama at 6-0 at the 15-day tourney.

The result saw Hakuho move within five wins of former ozeki Kaio’s record of winning 1,047 bouts.

Bulgarian-born Aoiyama pummeled seventh-ranked Takanoiwa (0-6) with a flurry of thrusts to the face and yanked him down by the back of the neck.

Kisenosato and ozeki Terunofuji both pulled out earlier in the day and forfeited their respective sixth-day bouts against komusubi Kotoshogiku (2-4) and top-ranked maegashira Shodai (2-4).

Takayasu (5-1) outlasted Tochinoshin (2-4) in an epic tussle, and Tamawashi (4-2) held off Goeido (3-3).

Yokozuna Harumafuji (4-2) wrapped up the day’s action by ramming out third-ranked maegashira Ikioi (1-5).