OSAKA – Overnight leader Kakuryu was forced to put a possible first-ever victory celebration on ice Saturday, despite a blockbuster win over ozeki Kotooshu at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho remained mathematically within grasp of the sole leader after ozeki Harumafuji fell to the yokozuna in the day’s finale when Kakuryu improved to a 13-1 mark in the penultimate match.
In the day’s premier bout, Kakuryu tussled for advantage against Kotooshu, looking for any and every opening to put the Bulgarian giant out of commission at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Kotooshu (8-6) appeared to have victory within grasp, when he charged forward with a firm belt grip, but the Mongolian deployed a perfectly timed underarm throw at the edge as the full-house crowd burst into cheers.
Kakuryu, whose win all but assured him of consideration for sumo’s second-highest rank, has beaten Hakuho and four of the five ozeki in his tour de force. He can win the tournament with a victory over rank-and-filer Goeido on the final day Sunday.
Hakuho, meanwhile, spent little time with Harumafuji (10-4), swatting his rival to the dohyo surface immediately out of the gates, leaving the lone yokozuna with a 12-2 record, one behind Kakuryu.
Hakuho’s pride was hurting badly after an epic fail the previous day against Kisenosato — the wrestler who has been a regular fly in the ointment for him in recent years.