Kisenosato recovers to set up grandstand finish


Kisenosato rebounded from back-to-back losses to blast out fellow ozeki Harumafuji, and rank-and-filers Tochiozan and Kyokutenho both pulled off upset wins Saturday to send the title race down to the wire at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

All three wrestlers improved to 11-3 ahead of Sunday’s final round of bouts, while lone yokozuna Hakuho also won handsomely to stay on the co-leaders tails and in contention for his 23rd Emperor’s Cup.

Hakuho stayed one win off the pace alongside Bulgarian No. 6 maegashira Aoiyama and fifth-ranked Okinoumi.

Kisenosato, who had a two-win cushion before nerves set in with defeats to Tochiozan and Hakuho, was in total control in the day’s penultimate bout and tore into Harumafuji (7-7) before forcing him out with minimal fuss at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Earlier, fourth-ranked Tochiozan shot down ozeki debutant Kakuryu (8-6), sending the Mongolian to the dirt with an under-shoulder swing-down, and veteran Mongolian No. 7 maegashira Kyokutenho followed suit with a textbook “uwatenage” overarm throw to see off Bulgarian bruiser Kotooshu (8-6).

“I was able to get forward and keep the momentum going,” said Tochiozan, who faces Kotooshu on Sunday. “Now I just have to pull out all the stops and give it my best shot.”

In the day’s final, Hakuho had too much savvy for Estonian ozeki Baruto, knocking the former nightclub bouncer off balance and setting himself up to usher the ozeki out from behind.

On Sunday, Kisenosato meets Baruto (8-6) and Kyokutenho is up against sekiwake Goeido (8-6). Hakuho meets Harumafuji in the final regulation bout of the tourney.