New sekiwake Asanoyama took his first loss of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday, while yokozuna Kakuryu fell to his third defeat.
Asanoyama fell down the leaderboard along with top-ranked maegashira Endo after getting brushed aside by komusubi Abi on Day 4 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kakuryu took his second straight loss at the hands of No. 1 Myogiryu (2-2), who earned back-to-back kinboshi awards for defeating a yokozuna as a rank-and-filer.
Abi (1-3) picked up his first win of the year and 100th career victory by driving Asanoyama out of the ring with a relentless assault of thrusts and shoves in their Day 4 match-up.
Asanoyama had been the last undefeated wrestler among the sanyaku ranks, the three below yokozuna, in his quest to capture a second makuuchi-division championship.
No. 2 Hokutofuji and No. 4 Shodai headline a group of four wrestlers in the lead at 4-0.
In the final bout of the day, Kakuryu took Myogiryu back before the maegashira rallied by securing a double-handed inside grip on the yokozuna’s belt and keeping him off balance while driving him out.
“I was able to perform my brand of sumo today and it felt really good,” Myogiryu said. “He had me on the ropes but I just tried to do whatever I could and somehow was able to get both hands inside. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, I’m really happy.”
Endo suffered his first loss of the 15-day meet, getting tripped up in his bout with ozeki Takakeisho (3-1).
The maegashira took control and kept Takakeisho fighting for space at the edge, but the ozeki lunged away at an opportune moment and connected on a well-timed thrust to twist his opponent to the clay.
Endo had beaten yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu in addition to ozeki Goeido ahead of his fight with Takakeisho.
Shodai defeated sekiwake Takayasu (2-2) and retained his share of the lead while delivering a setback to the former ozeki, who is bidding to regain his position at sumo’s second-highest rank.
The two wrestlers deflected one another with a big initial hit, but Shodai was quicker to seize the momentum as he forced Takayasu back and out.
Hokutofuji caught a break and kept his share of the lead intact after winning his scheduled match with Hakuho by forfeit.
The Mongolian-born yokozuna withdrew from the 15-day meet prior to the day’s bouts with minor injuries after sustaining his second straight loss.
Hokutofuji, who is gunning for his first top-division title, has already defeated both ozeki and handed Kakuryu, the sole remaining yokozuna in competition, his second loss on Day 3.
Goeido earned his first win of 2020, beating new komusubi Daieisho. The ozeki was momentarily driven back but wrapped Daieisho up in a headlock and tossed him out.
Two other rank-and-filers also share the lead after keeping their winning streaks alive on Day 4.
No. 11 Kagayaki dispatched No. 10 Sadanoumi (2-2), while No. 14 Terutsuyoshi shoved out No. 15 Ikioi in spite of a 57-kilogram weight disadvantage.
Kagayaki drove Sadanoumi to the straw after securing a left-handed inside belt hold and issued a final shove as his opponent tried to rally from the edge of the ring.
Terutsuyoshi slipped to the side at the initial charge with Ikioi (0-4) and put the injury-plagued veteran on the back-foot before following up for a push-out win.
The lowest-ranked co-leader, Terutsuyoshi made his makuuchi debut in Osaka last March and finished runner-up in his third top-tier appearance at the Nagoya basho in July.
In other bouts, fans were treated to the first-ever match-up of Georgian powerhouse Tochinoshin and division lightweight Enho, with the former ozeki coming out on top after a display of brute strength.
No. 5 Enho (2-2) was initially able to hold his ground and keep Tochinoshin (2-2) fighting for a belt hold, but the bigger man found his grip. He then lifted the 99-kg grappler clear off the ground and deposited him over the straw as Enho flailed his legs in a desperate attempt to stay in the ring.
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