Sumo / Basho Reports

Hakuho on course for title


Yokozuna Hakuho inched toward a record-extending 42nd career championship with a win over ozeki Goeido on Friday, the 13th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

The victory left Hakuho with a perfect record and a one-win lead over his Mongolian compatriot Ichinojo with two days to go in the 15-day tourney at Edion Arena Osaka.

Goeido (10-3) tried to sidestep the charging yokozuna, and the fight momentarily devolved into a slapping and shoving contest. But as the ozeki came in close to try and set up a force-out, Hakuho grabbed two belt holds.

The ozeki leapt backward to try to wrench himself free, but Hakuho pursued him to the straw and then forced him out.

Ichinojo, wrestling as a No. 4 maegashira, won a surprisingly easy victory against komusubi Mitakeumi (5-8), slapping him down at the get-go. The win was his fourth in 10 career bouts against Mitakeumi, whose losing record will likely see him fall into the maegashira ranks for the first time since January 2017.

Ozeki Takayasu suffered his third defeat, losing for just the third time in nine career matchups with sekiwake Takakeisho (9-4), who put his hopes for a promotion to ozeki back on track after losses on Wednesday and Thursday.

The 22-year-old Takakeisho simply beat Takayasu off the mark, hit home with his charge and drove the ozeki out of the ring. Looking for 10 wins to earn promotion to the sport’s second-highest rank, Takakeisho will have a crack at it on Saturday, when he faces title-chasing Ichinojo.

Georgian Tochinoshin (6-7), who is fighting for survival as an ozeki, was forced out by yokozuna Kakuryu (10-3). After losing the battle on the opening collision, Tochinoshin hung in briefly, but the more mobile yokouzna was able to get around him and press him out.

Former ozeki Kotoshogiku, currently wrestling at No. 8 maegashira, and No. 7 Aoiyama also suffered their third losses. Kotoshogiku carelessly walked into a trap, sprung when No. 11 Meisei (9-4) flung him down with a pulling overarm throw.

Aoiyama lost a slapfest highlighted with shoves when No. 12 Yoshikaze (10-3) got in under his defenses, grabbed a belt hold, and spun the Bulgarian around before shoving him out from behind.

Earlier, 24-year-old No. 13 Tomokaze, who is competing in the top-flight makuuchi division for the first time, secured a winning record by throwing down No. 8 Asanoyama (7-6).

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