Kisenosato inched closer to the professional precipice with his second straight loss at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday.
The 32-year-old yokozuna, who has been tasked with wrestling well after two injury-plagued years, attacked huge Mongolian Ichinojo (2-0) from the get-go, but never looked like a threat. The 226-kg No. 1 maegashira absorbed the brunt of Kisenosato’s charge before slapping the embattled yokozuna to the sandy surface.
Kisenosato pulled out of November’s Kyushu tourney after four straight losses and has only finished one of the previous 10 tournaments.
Sekiwake Takakeisho, who won in Kyushu and could earn promotion to ozeki with 11-plus wins, made short work of dynamic No. 3 maegashira Shohozan (0-2). The clash, between two of the quickest wrestlers in the top makuuchi division, became a straight-up shoving match that Shohozan lacked the power to win.
“I don’t have his speed so I had to go straight ahead against him,” a modest Takakeisho said after his second win.
Yokozuna Hakuho, who is returning from knee and ankle surgery after going 15-0 in September, performed some ring-edge magic to improve to 2-0.
Off balance and in the process of being shoved out of the ring from behind by East No. 1 maegashira Tochiozan (0-2), Hakuho spun away from his pursuer. Somehow the yokozuna managed to bring his right foot back in bounds and plant it on the straw as Tochiozan’s momentum took him out of the ring.
It was his 37th career defeat at the hands of the Mongolian master.
“What a waste,” said Tochiozan, who faces Kisenosato on Tuesday. “I want to shove and grapple with him as well as I can to get a win.”
Komusubi Mitakeumi, who needs a good tournament to reignite his ozeki promotion hopes, shoved yokozuna Kakuryu (1-1) straight out from the opening charge to improve to 2-0 following his easy win over Kisenosato on Sunday. Like Hakuho, Kakuryu missed all of November’s tournament due to injury.
A day after all three ozeki opened with losses, Takayasu survived a scare to beat Myogiryu (0-2), who nearly dragged him down to defeat. The komusubi’s momentum, however, sent him sailing out of the ring and the decision went to November runner-up Takayasu.
Tochinoshin (0-2), who stole the spotlight last January when he went 14-1 to win his first title, continues to look like a shadow of his former self.
Lacking support and strength from his strapped and braced right knee, the Georgian had Nishikigi at his mercy but could not put him away. Instead the East No. 2 maegashira threw out the ozeki to improve to 2-0.
Goeido also fell to his second loss, losing his grip on Hokutofuji’s belt as he tried to lever him over the straw. The West No. 2 maegashira counterattacked and drove the ozeki from the ring.
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