NAGOYA – Harumafuji clung to the lead with a gutsy win over a determined opponent on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Looking to win his eighth grand sumo title, the Mongolian yokozuna faced a severe challenge by ozeki Goeido (7-7), who forced Harumafuji back to the straw on his initial charge and failed twice to topple him after that at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
With the match appeared heading to a stalemate, Harumafuji feinted to his left, Goeido took the bait, shifted his weight that way and was easy prey for a textbook uwatenage overarm throw.
The win, 29th in 38 career bouts against Goeido, left Harumafuji (12-2) one ahead of ozeki Kisenosato and No. 10 maegashira Takanoiwa at 11-3.
Yokozuna Hakuho propelled himself from the ring with a careless charge that Kisenosato did well to evade.
After a false start, Hakuho (10-4) came out fast on the tachiai and appeared to have his man where he wanted him. But while Kisenosato was retreating to the ring’s edge, he maintained his balance and was able to steer the Mongolian master out of the ring.
Hakuho and Harumafuji will square off in Sunday’s final bout. Kisenosato will take on Goeido.
In his earlier match, Takanoiwa repeatedly landed blows and kept moving until he had the advantage and was able to drive Takarafuji (9-5) from the ring.
In his earlier match, Takanoiwa relentlessly came at No. 2 maegashira Takarafuji. After Takanoiwa was repulsed on his opening charge, he resorted to vicious haymaker slaps when his man got too close. Although outweighed by nearly 20 kg, Takanoiwa repeatedly landed blows and kept moving until he had the advantage and was able to drive Takarafuji (9-5) from the ring.
Ozeki Terunofuji lost a tough fight to komusubi Takayasu (10-4) to see his record fall to 7-7, meaning he will need to win his match against Brazilian sekiwake Kaisei, also 7-7, on Sunday or relinquish his rank for the next tournament in September.
With two bad knees, Terunofuji has been vulnerable to wrestlers who could get around him, but Takayasu defeated his larger opponent by coming straight at him in a flawless effort.