Sumo / Basho Reports

Title race heating up

Kyodo

Yokozuna Hakuho continued his drive for a 42nd top-level title at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday, staying undefeated to take the outright lead after rank-and-file grappler Onosho suffered his first loss.

Following the injury withdrawal of compatriot Kakuryu and the retirement of Kisenosato, Hakuho is the last yokozuna in action. The Mongolian superstar beat feisty No. 3 maegashira Shohozan on Day 7 of the 15-day tournament.

Shohozan (2-5) started in his usual aggressive fashion, slapping and thrusting from the jump. But Hakuho used his size and reach advantage to keep the maegashira at arm’s length before slapping him to the clay at Ryogoku Kokugikan in 3.6 seconds.

The result kept Hakuho a win clear of a chasing pack made up of No. 6 Onosho (6-1) and three other rank-and-file wrestlers.

Mitakeumi (5-2) became the latest high-profile competitor to withdraw through injury, pulling out after hurting his left leg in a loss to fellow komusubi Myogiryu (3-4) on Friday.

Ozeki Goeido (3-4) picked up his third straight win with a composed frontal force-out of No. 3 Shodai (2-5).

Shodai started strongly, forcing Goeido to the edge of the straw with a quick opening drive, but he could not finish the job. Goeido reversed the momentum and drove Shodai out backward at the opposite side of the ring.

Ozeki Takayasu improved to 4-3 with a thrust-down win over No. 4 Kotoshogiku (4-3), who suffered his 12th straight loss against the former Tagonoura stablemate of Kisenosato.

Kotoshogiku, a former ozeki, opened with a powerful shoulder drive, then used his belly to bounce Takayasu backward. But Takayasu absorbed the momentum, then showed his strength by wheeling his opponent to the middle of the ring and dumping him on the ground.

Sekiwake Takakeisho, winner of November’s grand tournament, kept his hopes of a title repeat alive with a decisive win over giant No. 1 Ichinojo.

Takakeisho (5-2) beat Ichinojo (4-3) off the mark, staying low and driving his hands into the chest and midsection of his lumbering opponent for a quick push-out.

Sekiwake Tamawashi (5-2) also stayed in the hunt with a win against one of his most troublesome opponents, No. 1 Tochiozan (2-5).

Komusubi Myogiryu improved his chances of a winning record and a return to his career-high ranking of sekiwake by beating No. 2 Nishikigi (4-3).

Brazilian No. 8 Kaisei (6-1) bounced back from his first loss by beating Onosho by frontal thrust out. The two are tied for second place with No. 13 Yago and No. 15 Chiyonokuni.

Yago continued his impressive top-level debut by beating No. 16 Daishomaru (0-7), while Chiyonokuni got the win over No. 14 Yutakayama (4-3).

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