• Kyodo

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Yokozuna Hakuho escaped sudden death against komusubi Goeido to win his sixth bout Saturday, moving a step closer in his bid for a third consecutive title at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

With the meet almost at the halfway point, rank-and-filer Miyabiyama is the unlikely leader as Hakuho continues to gain momentum at the 15-day tourney at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Hakuho, Dejima, Kokkai and Kisenosato chase with 6-1 records.

In the day’s final bout, Hakuho had to thank his lucky stars after he nearly stepped over the barrier while deploying an arm throw that sent Goeido down to a sixth defeat. Ringside judges watched replays to confirm that Hakuho’s foot had indeed stayed on top of the straw bales.

Hakuho, who won his eighth career Emperor’s Cup at the autumn meet in September, is the hot favorite to take home the tournament hardware in the absence of injury-hit yokozuna rival Asashoryu.

Former ozeki Miyabiyama, currently a No. 7 maegashira, pounded Tokitenku (4-3) with his beefy frame before crushing the No. 9 maegashira over the edge to stay perfect.

Former ozeki Dejima, meanwhile, fell out of a share of the lead with a first defeat after being heaved out by top-ranked maegashira Toyonoshima, who improved to 5-2.

Ozeki Kotooshu was sent to a fourth defeat in a weak display against Kisenosato.

Kotooshu, who continues to disappoint with his inconsistency, got the jump by pushing his opponent back at the face-off, only to quickly fall to the dirt when Kisenosato shoved him from the side.

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