Hakuho rebounds with win over Kisenosato

Kyodo News

Hakuho bounced back with a vengeance and forced Kisenosato into the splits to get his campaign for a 13th Emperor’s Cup back up and running at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Chief rival Asashoryu, meanwhile, scored an imperious win over Kakizoe and preserved his share of the lead alongside Hakuho and three other wrestlers at 7-1 at the 15-day Tokyo meet.

His 30-bout winning streak snapped with a shock defeat to Baruto on Saturday, Hakuho had his hands full in the day’s penultimate matchup as Kisenosato repeatedly threatened to stage an upset at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

But the Mongolian yokozuna held his nerve and prevailed when he yanked the third-ranked maegashira off balance and floored him with a “shitatenage” underarm throw. Kisenosato dropped to 5-3 after losing his third bout in a row.

In stark contrast, Asashoryu barely broke sweat in wrapping up the day’s action, spinning fourth-ranked Kakizoe (4-4) around and sending him flying into the ringside seats.

Estonian sekiwake Baruto, Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu and rank-and-filer Kitataiki also have 7-1 records.

Buoyed by Saturday’s win, Baruto retained his share of the first place at Harumafuji’s (6-2) expense, adding the Mongolian ozeki to his list of scalps by clamping onto his belt and shunting him over the straw bales.

“My tachi-ai was good today,” said Baruto. “Hopefully I can stay healthy and keep taking each bout as it comes.”

Kotooshu stayed among the leading pack after bulldozing Hokutoriki (2-6) out with a flurry of shoves.