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Hakuho collects 800th victory in top division

Kyodo

A day after becoming the sole owner of the all-time record by clinching his 33rd Emperor’s Cup, Hakuho basked in the sunlight with another stellar performance Saturday as he aims to complete his tour de force with a perfect mark.

In the first tournament to kick off the new year, Hakuho once again proved to be in a league of his own en route to winning his fifth consecutive championship, while his closest rivals, including fellow yokozuna Harumafuji and Kakuryu, fell flat in the title race at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The 29-year-old Hakuho added Harumafuji’s scalp to his mawashi with a demolition of his rival in the penultimate match. There were no openings for Harumafuji (10-4) in an impregnable attack as sumo’s foremost yokozuna earned his 800th victory in the elite makuuchi division.

Hakuho surpassed the legendary Taiho with his unprecedented achievement after having tied the latter last November, beating Kisenosato in the day’s finale on Friday after ringside judges determined the first bout was too close to call.

The icing on the cake in this monumental tournament will be if he can go undefeated for the first time since the 2013 Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

By the looks of things, his opponent for Sunday, Kakuryu, who fell to a fourth defeat in the day’s finale against ozeki Kisenosato (11-3), will not present a serious threat to Hakuho’s achieving that feat.

In another key bout, maegashira Endo (5-9) dragged down Kotoshogiku (9-5).

Demotion-threatened Goeido put himself on the bubble after twisting down Bulgarian Aoiyama (5-9) with a well-timed uwatehineri technique.

The ozeki must win his final match against Kotoshogiku to retain his rank for the Spring Basho in March.

Sekiwake Ichinojo and Terunofuji (7-7) needed a mizu-iri water break after both rikishi refused to budge in a grappling battle that lasted 3 minutes, 17 seconds before a break was called for.

On the restart, Ichinojo (6-8) finally was able to move his man over the edge for a yorikiri forceout, but both men were exhausted in the match that lasted almost five minutes.

Ryogoku Kokugikan has registered near sellout crowds on every day. A drop of the banner advertisement thanking spectators for a full house on the final day would make it the first time since the 1997 New Year Basho there were near sellouts on all 15 days.