Sumo / Basho Reports

Title chase down to two unbeatens

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu continued their unbeaten march at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday, improving to 6-0 with victories over rank-and-file opponents.

The two yokozuna are in a two-way tie for the lead at Dolphins Arena after the last two undefeated maegashira were beaten on Day 6 of the 15-day meet.

Hakuho continued his domination of No. 2 maegashira Aoiyama in the final bout of the day, improving to 20 wins and one loss by forfeit in their head-to-head matchups.

The all-time championship record-holder slapped down Aoiyama (3-3) after a spirited effort by the Bulgarian. Determined to keep Hakuho away from his belt, Aoiyama tried to turn the match into a slap fight, but he was sent tumbling from the ring as he charged the yokozuna.

Kakuryu kept his pursuit of a sixth top-level title on track by toppling No. 2 Endo (2-4). The maegashira fended off a belt grip by Kakuryu and drove him backward, but the yokozuna reacted quickly, shifting to the side and executing the slap down.

Ozeki Takayasu (5-1) stayed in contention for a maiden title following a closely fought victory over No. 3 Daieisho (3-3).

Despite pummeling Daieisho with a flurry of blows, the powerfully built ozeki was forced to backpedal before he slapped down his opponent at the edge of the ring.

Ozeki Goeido (3-3) dropped further off the pace after being forced out by No. 3 Shodai (4-2). The underdog was the aggressor from the start, driving Goeido to the edge. He blocked an attempted throw to clinch his first win against the ozeki in their past six meetings.

Ozeki Tochinoshin (0-6) forfeited his scheduled match against komusubi Abi (2-4) after withdrawing.

According to his stablemaster Kasugano, Tochinoshin has been unable to overcome lingering pain in his right knee, along with a left-shoulder injury suffered before the start of the tournament.

“Yesterday was another overwhelming loss. He has been doing his best to fight through the pain, but he’s not even at half strength,” Kasugano said.

The Georgian will enter the next tournament as a relegation-threatened kadoban ozeki if he is unable to return and finish the ongoing meet with a winning record.

Struggling sekiwake Tamawashi (1-5) grabbed his first win of the basho against No. 1 Asanoyama (2-4). The Mongolian blocked an inside grip attempt before quickly pushing out the Summer Grand Tournament champion.

Sekiwake Mitakeumi improved to 4-2 by pushing out komusubi Ryuden (2-4). The Dewanoumi stable grappler, who claimed the title here last year, jumped quickly out of the blocks for his first win against Ryuden in three attempts.

After starting the day unbeaten, No. 7 Tomokaze and No. 16 Terutsuyoshi relinquished their share of the lead following losses to No. 5 Takarafuji (2-4) and No. 13 Sadanoumi (4-2), respectively.