Hakuho edges closer to 34th Emperor’s Cup


Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho capitalized on a slip-up by his closest challenger, Terunofuji, on Wednesday to move two wins clear with four days remaining at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

Hakuho, undefeated now in 35 bouts since the 2014 Kyushu basho, improved his record to 11-0 after giving Osaka-born ozeki Goeido a hiding in the day’s final bout.

After unleashing a flurry of slaps and thrusts, Hakuho pulled back and took down Goeido (6-5) with a textbook uwatenage overarm throw. He could secure his 34th career Emperor’s Cup as early as Friday.

Terunofuji (9-2) was put on the back foot early in his bout against Kaisei, who got both hands on the front of the newly promoted sekiwake’s belt and surged forward to send him backpedaling over the straw ridge.

Three rank-and-file wrestlers who started the day two wins off the pace — Osunaarashi, Chiyotoori and Aminishiki — all tasted defeat.

Osunaarashi’s slim title hopes suffered a massive blow when he was condemned to a third defeat, the Egyptian grappler getting smashed out by Georgian No. 15 maegashira Gagamaru, who secured a winning mark with an eighth win.

No. 12 maegashira Chiyootori was forced out by 10th-ranked Kitataiki (6-5).

Earlier in the day, veteran maegashira Aminishiki (8-3) pulled out of the tournament due to a right knee injury and lost his scheduled bout against Tochiozan (6-5) by default.

The 36-year-old Aminishiki had been in excellent form at this tournament, winning his first seven bouts. He sustained the injury during Tuesday’s loss to Tokushoryu. The withdrawal is Aminishiki’s first since the 2013 autumn meet.

Back at the top of the rankings, yokozuna Harumafuji saw off a spirited effort from Myogiryu (5-6) and forced the komusubi out to secure his winning record.

Kisenosato (8-3) dug in deep to send down fifth-ranked maegashira Toyonoshima (7-4) and secure a majority of wins, and fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku followed suit in the next bout, marching out fourth-ranked Tochinoshin (5-6) for a seventh win.

Top-ranked maegashira Ichinojo had little trouble in downing second-ranked Takarafuji (5-6), improving to 7-4.