Mongolian firebrand Asashoryu showed countryman Harumafuji who the boss is with another clinical display to stay tied for the lead with yokozuna rival Hakuho at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
Asashoryu (9-0) shook off Harumafuji at the charge and kept his right hand clamped to the ozeki debutant’s belt to tip him onto the sandy surface and preserve his spotless record at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The 22-time Emperor’s Cup winner missed part or all of the last three tournaments through injury but he has shown that he is still very much a force to be reckoned with a slew of gritty performances here.
Defeat, meanwhile, came as another blow to Harumafuji (3-6), who has struggled to reproduce the kind of sumo that yielded a 13-2 record at the Kyushu meet last November, where he narrowly missed out on the title after a championship playoff defeat to Hakuho.
In the day’s final bout, Hakuho was made to work for his ninth win after being lifted off the floor, but he showed why he is favorite to win a fourth consecutive tournament by digging deep to send Estonian giant Baruto (7-2) sprawling with an overarm throw.
Overnight coleader Tochiozan finally came unstuck after a sizzling start to the tournament as Tamanoshima (7-2) turned the tables on the 12th-ranked maegashira and bumped him over the straw ridge.
Tochiozan is tied at 8-1 with Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, who stayed in touch with the leaders after soaking up an attack from Wakanosato (4-5) and shunting the former sekiwake out for the win.
Kaio claimed ozeki bragging rights and edged a step closer to retaining his place at sumo’s second rank by getting the better of Chiyotaikai.
The veteran picked his moment to get a firm right-handed grip on Chiyotaikai’s belt and waltzed the ozeki out to move within two wins of the eight he needs to stay at ozeki.
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