Asa, Hakuho ready for titanic showdown

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu put one hand on his 24th Emperor’s Cup with a demolition of ozeki Kotomitsuki Saturday, improving to a perfect 14-0 at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

Yokozuna Hakuho, meanwhile, stayed hot on his rival’s heels at 13-1, overpowering Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu to set up a mouthwatering clash with Asashoryu on the final day of the 15-day meet on Sunday.

In the day’s final bout, Asashoryu had no problem manhandling Kotomitsuki, the yokozuna cleverly waiting for his opponent to make the first move after the pair grappled momentarily at the ring’s center at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Kotomitsuki (9-5) charged forward, only for Asashoryu to toss him aside like a rag doll, topping off the win with a devilish grin. Asashoryu, who turns 29 on Sunday, is seeking his first title since beating Hakuho in a playoff at the New Year meet in January.

In the day’s penultimate match, Hakuho, who is gunning for a 12th career title, appeared to be up against the wall when Kotooshu got a hold on his “mawashi” belt after the faceoff.

But the yokozuna was far too quick, shaking out before sending Kotooshu (8-6) sprawling with an armlock throw.

Estonian goliath Baruto, meanwhile, saw his slim title hopes shattered after falling to a third defeat against Kakuryu, who improved to 10-4.

Baruto tried to lift Kakuryu up in the air in an ill-advised attempt to get a slam dunk but was instead sent crashing onto his back when the Mongolian No. 3 maegashira deployed an outer leg trip.

Harumafuji twisted down Kaio to a seventh defeat in an all-ozeki matchup, to improve his slate to 9-5.

Sekiwake Kisenosato moved one triumph away from posting a majority of wins, knocking out Miyabiyama (4-10) with a barrage of slaps and thrusts to the chest.

Earlier, crowd favorite Takamisakari, who was on the bubble with seven defeats, was blown away by Masatsukasa (7-7) to slip to a losing 6-8 mark.