OSAKA – Hakuho maintained an unblemished record Monday at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, but fellow Mongolian-born yokozuna Kakuryu suffered an upset loss to komusubi Hokutofuji.
After pulling out of the New Year Grand Tournament in January due to a foot injury, Kakuryu (1-1) raised further questions about his health with a defeat in the final bout of Day 2 at an empty Edion Arena Osaka.
The 15-day tournament is being held behind closed doors after the Japan Sumo Association took the unprecedented step of locking out spectators to combat the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Kakuryu hit hard and low in the opening clash, but he failed to gain a strong grip on Hokutofuji (1-1), who knocked the yokozuna to the side before pushing him down from the rear.
“I deflected his opening move, but I was able to stay in front of him,” Hokutofuji said.
“I managed to beat a yokozuna for the first time (as a wrestler in the three sanyaku ranks below yokozuna), and I want to keep this up.”
All-time championship record-holder Hakuho, who is also returning from injury, overcame stubborn No. 1 maegashira Daieisho in the second-to-last bout of the day.
With Daieisho (0-2) wriggling his way out of an attempted leg trip, Hakuho (2-0) dragged the rank-and-file grappler around the ring before knocking him down with an ugly beltless arm throw.
Takakeisho, the sole ozeki in competition, suffered a surprise defeat against No. 2 Okinoumi.
The ozeki was strong out of the blocks, but Okinoumi (1-1) used an overarm throw to send Takakeisho (1-1) to the dirt for just his second win in eight head-to-head meetings.
Sekiwake Asanoyama kept a clean slate by downing the New Year tournament winner, No. 2 Tokushoryu, in one of the day’s most anticipated bouts.
Tokushoryu (0-2) opened with an attempted arm-bar throw, but Asanoyama (2-0) shrugged it off, staying in front of his opponent and dumping him to the ground with an overarm throw.
Ozeki hopeful Asanoyama, who is looking for his second Emperor’s Cup, can meet one of the benchmarks for promotion to sumo’s second-highest rank with 12 wins here.
Sekiwake Shodai also improved to 2-0 with a routine victory against No. 1 Takayasu.
Former ozeki Takayasu (0-2) opened with a hard shoulder blast but quickly succumbed to a belt throw by Shodai, who has returned to the sanyaku ranks following a strong performance in January.
Komusubi Endo (1-1) bounced back from his opening-day defeat to Hakuho by taking care of No. 3 Yutakayama (1-1).
Diminutive No. 4 Enho, one of the most popular wrestlers in the division, picked up his first win, overcoming a 55-kg deficit to defeat No. 5 Ryuden (1-1).