• Kyodo


New yokozuna Kisenosato and his Tagonoura stablemate Takayasu both improved to 8-0 on Sunday, the midpoint of the 15-day Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kisenosato finished the action at Edion Arena in a short but tense battle, handing No. 3 maegashira Shohozan his seventh defeat. The yokozuna’s victory kept him even for the tournament lead with Takayasu, one win ahead of Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji and No. 10 Tochiozan, both at 7-1.

Facing an opponent who had beaten him in 10 of their 12 career bouts, Shohozan was quick and full of energy but short on finish.

After a frantic defense to avoid being shoved out, he pushed Kisenosato back to the center. But the yokozuna grabbed his opponent’s arm, wrenched it down and Shohozan followed.

Takayasu also survived a test that nearly lasted a minute from top-ranked Ikioi (1-7). With a left-handed underarm belt hold, Takayasu forced Ikioi back to the straw but was unable to lever him out.

The maegashira spun away from danger and nearly forced the sekiwake out, but by tip-toeing along the straw bales, Takayasu made his escape and quickly turned the tables on Ikoi, who he finished off with an underam throw.

“That was a hard one,” Takayasu said. “Every move had to be careful. I’ve been having a good run since the last tournament, and everything feels really good.”

Terunofuji followed Takayasu to the ring and quickly shoved out komusubi Mitakeumi (3-5).

In another match that ended in a heartbeat, yokozuna Harumafuji (6-2) dashed past Mongolian compatriot Takanoiwa (2-6) on his opening charge, grabbed the belt, spun him around and executed an easy overarm throw.

Yokozuna Kakuryu also won to improve to 6-2, but had to work to earn his spoils against young komusubi Shodai (3-5). Shodai made solid progress at the start, forcing Kakuryu back before being repulsed with a series of slaps and shoves to the throat that sent him backward and out.

Also at 6-2, sekiwake Kotoshogiku moved within four wins of regaining his ozeki rank, taking a cautious approach en route to winning his first career bout with Sokokurai.

Neither man gained any advantage from a deliberate opening charge, but Kotoshogiku seized the initiative. Taking advantage of his low center of gravity, good balance and footwork, Kotoshogiku bellied his opponent to the bales and over as the No. 2 fell to his sixth defeat.

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