Hakuho remains in dominant form


While yokozuna Hakuho continues to cruise, ozeki Kisenosato had salt rubbed in his wounds on Monday, when he suffered an embarrassing fourth loss on the ninth day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

A day after his promotion bid to yokozuna effectively ended, the ozeki ran out of steam after his initial charge and let third-ranked maegashira Toyohibiki (3-6) push him out of the raised ring at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Kisenosato, who was taking his second crack at promotion to the sport’s exalted top rank, was tasked with winning the tournament with a minimum of 13 victories over 15 days, but his second straight defeat left him a disappointing 5-4.

Hakuho, however, remained in dominant form. Seeking his 28th career championship and first in two tournaments, Hakuho overran Takekaze on the tachiai and the No. 4 maegashira collapsed backward under pressure.

Ozeki Kakuryu stayed one win behind the yokozuna by finishing off a feisty affair with Bulgarian No. 3 maegashira Aoiyama (3-6) by executing a beautiful underarm throw. A trio of maegashira, Shohozan, Endo and Osunaarashi, improved to 7-2 to remain in striking distance of a potential upset championship.

Kotoshogiku, who needs to earn a majority of wins in the tournament or forfeit his ozeki status, improved to 6-3 by toppling sekiwake Goeido (5-4).

Sekiwake Kotooshu stayed alive in his quest for 10 wins that will return him to the ozeki ranks for the next tournament by notching a victory over top-ranked maegashira Okinoumi (3-6). The victory improved Kotooshu’s record to 6-3.

New fan-favorite Endo stayed two off the lead when he maneuvered fellow maegashira Tokushoryu (6-3) out despite coming off second best in the initial charge. Shohozan joined him at 7-2 when the No. 5 maegashira defeated No. 6 Tamawashi with a frontal force-out.

Osunaarashi, fighting as a No. 16 maegashira in his second tournament since ascending to the elite makuuchi division in November, seized control of his bout with Masunoyama on the tachiai. The Egyptian had little trouble applying the coup de grace as he slapped the No. 14 maegashira down and earned his seventh win.

Shotenro’s bout with fellow maegashira Tokitenku was twice interrupted while the referee retied the knot on the back of Shotenro’s mawashi. Tokitenku (4-5) overcame the distractions and kicked his opponent’s leg out from under him and threw him down to his eighth loss.