OSAKA – Yokozuna Hakuho held off a stern challenge from sekiwake Takakeisho on Wednesday to maintain his perfect 11-0 record at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.
No. 4 maegashira Ichinojo is one win behind the Mongolian yokozuna, who aims to hold onto the lead for a record-extending 42nd top-division championship at the 15-day meet at Edion Arena Osaka.
In the final bout of the day, Hakuho had to work harder than usual to earn a victory over Takakeisho (8-3). The two wrestlers traded slaps to open the bout, and the younger Takakeisho managed to move the yokozuna toward the edge of the ring.
Ever the stalwart, Hakuho maintained his composure before grabbing Takakeisho by the belt with his left hand and sending him tumbling to the dohyo surface with an overarm throw.
Takakeisho is seeking promotion to ozeki, the sport’s second-highest rank, at this meet. He beat yokozuna Kakuryu on Tuesday to secure a winning record with his eighth win.
In a clash between two maegashira wrestlers who started the day at 9-1, Ichinojo slapped down No. 7 Aoiyama (9-2) to remain in the hunt for his maiden makuuchi championship.
The 226-kg Mongolian won 10 bouts at a single grand tournament for the first time since January 2018, where he was competing as a top-ranked maegashira.
In the day’s penultimate bout, Kakuryu (9-2) bounced back from his previous day loss by defeating sekiwake Tamawashi (4-7). The yokozuna resisted Tamawashi’s slaps, and pulled his opponent forward, while also losing balance and falling.
After initially ruling Kakuryu the winner, the judges upheld the decision following a ring conference.
Takayasu (9-2) thrust down Tochinoshin (6-5) in a clash between two ozeki wrestlers. He charged into Tochinoshin with his head and grabbed onto the Georgian’s belt with both hands.
With a left-hand belt hold, Tochinoshin tried to resist, but he was unable to hold on with a taped-up left leg. Tochinoshin, who fights here as a demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki, needs two more wins to retain his rank for the next tournament in May.
The other ozeki, Goeido (9-2) remained two wins behind Hakuho by bulldozing No. 5 Chiyotairyu (6-5) out of the ring. The Osaka native will face Takakeisho in his campaign for his second championship on Thursday.
Mitakeumi (5-6) beat Daieisho (5-6) in a slap fest and pushed the second-ranked maegashira out, while fellow komusubi Hokutofuji (3-8) lost to top-ranked maegashira Endo (4-7).