FUKUOKA – Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho recovered from an early scare to defeat ozeki Kisenosato on Wednesday to remain unbeaten as the sole leader heading down the stretch at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho, in the hunt for a record-extending 36th career championship in his comeback from injury, improved to 11-0 at the 15-day meet, one win ahead of yokozuna rival Harumafuji.
Kisenosato (8-3), so often a thorn in Hakuho’s side in the past, looked to have gained the edge when Hakuho stumbled after the charge in the day’s final bout at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
But the yokozuna, who had his 63-bout winning streak snapped by Kisenosato in 2010 in Kyushu, recovered to slap the ozeki down for the victory.
Harumafuji kept Hakuho in his sights with an explosive win over Tochiozan (5-6). The yokozuna unleashed a barrage of slaps and thrusts before barging the sekiwake over the edge.
Yokozuna Kakuryu, the Autumn winner, wasted little time in putting Fukuoka-born ozeki Kotoshogiku to the sword with a clinical katasukashi under-shoulder swing down technique, leaving both men with 7-4 marks.
In other bouts, kadoban ozeki Goeido fell to his fifth defeat after being taken out by Mongolian behemoth Ichinojo (5-6) in a rematch.
Goeido, who needs three more wins to retain his rank, appeared to be the beneficiary of a dubious call from the ringside judges and got a second crack at the top-ranked maegashira.
Television replays clearly showed his right knee hit the dirt before Ichinojo went down, but judges called for a rematch before justice eventually prevailed.
“I thought we had both gone down the same time and there would be a rematch,” Ichinojo said. “But I attacked the same as usual (in the rematch) and am glad I could stay in the ring.”
Ozeki Terunofuji was given a serious run for his money by Yoshikaze but dug in deep to see off the giant-killing komusubi with a beltless arm throw.
Terunofuji improved his record to 6-5, while Yoshikaze, who scored upset wins over Kakuryu and Kisenosato on the first two days of the tournament, is also at 6-5.
Sekiwake Myogiryu (2-9) allowed Egyptian No. 1 maegashira Osunaarashi (5-6) to counter and dump him into the ringside cushions, but Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin (4-7) staved off a losing record for another day after getting the better of third-ranked Aminishiki (4-7).
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