NAGOYA - Sekiwake Mitakeumi stayed unbeaten Saturday to hold onto the sole lead at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Fighting in his ninth-straight tournament among the three sanyaku rankings beneath yokozuna, Mitakeumi kept a breakthrough top-level title in his sights by beating veteran Kotoshogiku on Day 7 at Dolphins Arena.
No. 1 maegashira Kotoshogiku (2-5) came in hard from the jump, but Mitakeumi blocked his attack, gaining an inside grip and digging in at the center of the ring. He then drove Kotoshogiku back to the edge of the straw before forcing him out.
With all three yokozuna out injured, the 25-year-old Mitakeumi has a golden opportunity to lift the Emperor’s Cup for the first time at the 15-day tournament in Nagoya.
No. 3 Takakeisho (4-3) pulled off the upset of the day by defeating ozeki Goeido (4-3). Goeido tried to slap down the youngster, but Takakeisho showed excellent technique by countering the attack and thrusting the ozeki to the clay.
“I’m just fighting my style of sumo. That’s all I’m thinking about,” Takakeisho said.
The 21-year-old, who has been touted as a future champion, said he hadn’t considered the possibility of a title in Nagoya despite several higher-ranked wrestlers having pulled out with injuries.
“I’m taking it one match at a time, and I don’t think about those top guns being out of the tournament,” he said.
Ozeki Tochinoshin became the latest to drop out of the tournament after suffering an injury to his right big toe. He fell to 5-2 after forfeiting his match on Day 7 against top-ranked maegashira Shodai (2-5).
The Georgian, who was competing in his first meet since being promoted, may re-enter the competition if his condition improves, according to his stable.
Ozeki Takayasu improved to 5-2 after quickly overpowering No. 3 Abi (2-5). The maegashira opened with a thrusting attack but was unable to budge the charging Takayasu, who drove Abi straight back and out.
Sekiwake Ichinojo improved to 3-4 after forcing out No. 2 Ikioi (2-5). The maegashira came out aggressively but could not move Ichinojo once the 225-kg Mongolian set his grip on his opponent’s belt.
A trio of wrestlers from further down in the division improved to 6-1 to stay one win off the pace. Sixth-ranked Endo defeated No. 8 Kyokutaisei (1-6), fellow No. 6 Chiyotairyu beat No. 9 Myogiryu (5-2), and No. 13 Asanoyama topped No. 16 Meisei (2-5).