FUKUOKA – Yokozuna Hakuho was surprisingly beaten for the second successive day as Harumafuji grabbed sole possession of the lead at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday.
On the penultimate day of the year’s final meet, Hakuho (12-2), who suffered his first defeat here at the hands of Harumafuji a day earlier, was ushered out to a painful second loss by ozeki Terunofuji (8-6), while Harumafuji (13-1) closed in on his first title in two years with victory over Kakuryu (8-6).
Hakuho, seeing his 36th championship start to slip away, struggled from the start of a contest that lasted almost three minutes, allowing his opponent to get the better grip of the belt.
The two were at a standstill in the center of the ring for most of the bout before Terunofuji made the move, backing the winningest rikishi of all time beyond the straw bales.
Hakuho now must defeat fellow yokozuna Kakuryu — who he owns 36-4 for his career — on Sunday and hope ozeki Kisenosato upsets Harumafuji, who breezed past Kakuryu on Saturday at Fukuoka Kokusai Center.
Kakuryu lost his footing from the tachiai and Harumafuji took full advantage, spinning his man around and shoving him out of the circle to send the yokozuna to an embarrassing sixth defeat.
Harumafuji is 32-21 lifetime against Kisenosato, who improved to 9-5 by default after ozeki Kotoshogiku (8-6) withdrew with injury.
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