Surprise package Ichinojo claimed his second ozeki scalp in as many days to keep alive his hopes of winning the Emperor’s Cup on his debut in the top-flight makuuchi division at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.
The 10th-ranked maegashira broke up a stalemate and got his hands on the front of newly promoted ozeki Goeido’s (6-6) belt and nonchalantly tossed him off the ring to stay within one win of front-running yokozuna and fellow Mongolian Hakuho.
Hakuho improved to 12-0 but rival yokozuna Kakuryu suffered an upset when he got muscled out by ozeki Kotoshogiku (8-4) to drop two wins back alongside rank-and-filer Okinoumi with three days of the tournament remaining at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Ichinojo (11-1) became the first wrestler in 14 years to beat an ozeki in his debut in the top flight when he triumphed against Kisenosato on Wednesday. He faces Kakuryu in his next bout on Friday.
“I went on the offensive and just tried to keep going forward,” said Ichinojo, who used a frowned-upon “henka” sidestep move at the charge to beat Kisenosato.
“My performance was better than it was yesterday. I will just try and take (Kakuryu) head on (on Friday).”
Kisenosato (7-5) has proven to be a thorn in Hakuho’s side in the past, but Hakuho was in total control in the day’s finale defeating the ozeki with a clinical frontal crush out.
Hakuho is gunning for a third straight Emperor’s Cup, and a championship here would move him within one title of the all-time record of 32 held by legendary yokozuna Taiho.
In one of the day’s most entertaining bouts, Egyptian maegashira Osunaarashi emerged victorious from a slugfest against sekiwake Takekaze, leaving both men with 5-7 records.
Once touted as a bright prospect, Endo’s tournament, however, reached a fresh nadir as the top-ranked maegashira was bundled out of the ring and consigned to his 10th defeat by second-ranked Toyonoshima, who has four wins against five losses and three rest days due to injury.
Okinoumi, a No. 15 maegashira, moved into double digits after forcing out 10th-ranked Kitataiki (6-6), while sixth-ranked Aminishiki was another win back at 9-3 after overpowering veteran Mongolian Kyokutehno (7-5).