Hakuho, Baruto remain locked together for lead

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It was business as usual for yokozuna Hakuho while ozeki Baruto also remained undefeated to share the lead in the title race at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.

Hakuho stayed on course in his bid for a third consecutive title and 22nd overall Emperor’s Cup, tearing through little man Toyonoshima in buzzsaw fashion while Baruto made mincemeat of Takayasu to leave the pair at 9-0 with six days remaining at the 15-day meet.

Ozeki Kisenosato remained in hot pursuit of the co-leaders at 8-1, but Kotooshu was tripped up by fellow ozeki Harumafuji for his second defeat to join four wrestlers, including Harumafuji, two off the pace.

In the day’s finale, Hakuho swiftly got his right hand wrapped around Toyonoshima’s mawashi and propelled the sekiwake out with a barrage of thrusts in just seconds at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

“I was able to go with the flow in that bout and I wrestled well,” said Hakuho, who got an outside grip on his opponent before charging ahead. “Sometimes I’m not able to get the inner grip I want but there are many techniques that can be used against opponents,” he said, adding that he hopes Baruto continues to contend for the title.

Hakuho, who faces sekiwake Kakuryu on Tuesday, improved to 19-1 in career bouts against Toyonoshima (3-6).

Baruto smacked Takayasu (4-5) forward with a series of slaps before shoving the 21-year-old over the straw bales with a final salvo near the edge. Baruto, who appeared to hurt his right shoulder in the exchange, takes on Toyonoshima in Tuesday’s bout.

Ozeki Kotoshogiku (5-4) got his left hand inside on Kitataiki’s (1-8) mawashi and bumped his opponent with his hefty belly before twisting the No. 3 maegashira down near the edge.

Ozeki newcomer Kisenosato, who had been even at 5-5 in career bouts against Homasho, made it no contest in Monday’s match in a lopsided frontal forceout after one strike to his opponent’s head.