Yokozuna Hakuho stays on target for 28th career title


Yokozuna Hakuho dispensed with sumo old-timer Kyokutenho to keep his clean slate, while ozeki Kakuryu stayed hot in pursuit one behind with a smackdown of Goeido at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.

Hakuho improved to 10-0, moving a step closer toward winning his 28th career title. Kakuryu is a 9-1, while maegashira wrestlers Endo and Shohozan trail at 8-2 with five days remaining at the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

There was no vintage performance to come in the finale from maegashira Kyokutenho (4-6), who at 39 is the oldest in the makuuchi class, only a blast of fury from the yokozuna.

Kakuryu won a slapping exchange against Goeido (5-5), swatting down the sekiwake with his right hand after stepping back close to the edge.

Ozeki Kisenosato (6-4), meanwhile, snapped a two-day losing skid, pushing out the diminutive Takekaze (5-5) in a barrage of thrusts, but he still looked out of sorts as he continues to wrestle with his body too erect.

The ozeki has spectacularly wilted under the pressure and become a shadow of himself at this basho, falling way below expectations in his second yokozuna bid. Instead of following the directive of winning the championship with at least 13 wins for a shot at promotion, the surly ozeki is struggling just to save face.

Endo, whose popularity has skyrocketed in just his third appearance in the top division, would not back down against Kaisei (4-6), staving off a fierce grappling effort from the Brazilian-born maegashira as he outflanked his opponent and shoved him over the straw bales for his kachi-koshi.

“It feels good to win. I was moving very well today against a big opponent,” said No. 10 maegashira Endo, who was the first of the rank-and-file wrestlers to get eight wins here.

Sekiwake Kotooshu suffered a fourth defeat at the hands of former komusubi Shohozan.

Shohozan took some serious whacking from the Bulgarian but kept his eye on the ball as he unleashed a fierce shove to send Kotooshu sailing off the dohyo.

Demotion-threatened ozeki Kotoshogiku fell victim to his fourth loss in a bout against Tochiozan (7-3), who used his left hand to maneuver the bigger man out with a beltless arm throw. Kotoshogiku must get eight wins to keep his rank.

Egyptian-born Osunaarashi (7-3), who experienced his first makekoshi, or losing record, when he appeared for the first time in the elite makuuchi division in November, has had an outstanding tournament, thus far.

But he was unable to contain a beefy, grappling attack from fellow rank-and-filer Chiyootori (6-4) on this day and was upended in a frontal force-out.