OSAKA - Kisenosato overpowered plucky Takanoiwa to make it three wins out of three in his debut at yokozuna at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Tuesday.
Hakuho and Kakuryu also emerged victorious in their bouts, but Harumafuji missed the chance to complete a clean sweep for yokozuna, crashing to a shock second loss at the hands of Chinese-born maegashira Sokokurai.
Kisenosato was made to work for his victory. He took a couple of thrusts to the neck early on in the day’s penultimate bout at Edion Arena, but in the end had too much gumption for No. 2 maegashira Takanoiwa (0-3) and bumped him over the ridge.
The big upset of the day came in the final match, when second-ranked Sokokurai slapped down Harumafuji to pick up his first win of the 15-day meet.
Hakuho bided his time to muscle out No. 1 maegashira Takekaze (0-3).
Kakuryu (3-0) was given an early scare and put on the back foot against Ikioi (0-3), but the yokozuna kept his cool and rallied to get both arms around the top-ranked maegashira and usher him over the bales.
On a day of contrasting fortunes for ozeki, Goeido (1-2), who pulled out of the New Year Basho with a right ankle injury, suffered his second consecutive defeat after he lost his way against komusubi Shodai (2-1).
But Mongolian behemoth Terunofuji grappled his way past winless No. 3 maegashira Shohozan to preserve his perfect start.
Terunofuji is starting as a kadoban (demotion-threatened) ozeki for the fourth time and needs a majority of wins to keep his rank.
In another key bout, Kotoshogiku (2-1) looked like he had done enough to dig himself out of a hole against Takayasu (3-0), only to get sent sprawling to a first defeat at the hands of his fellow sekiwake.
Kotoshogiku, who became the first Japanese wrestler in a decade to win the championship title at last year’s New Year Basho, has dropped down to the third-highest rank of sekwiake after going 5-10 in January.
He needs to post at least 10 wins at this tournament to earn a move back up to ozeki for the next tournament in May.