OSAKA – Hakuho improved to a 3-0 Tuesday at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, while fellow yokozuna Kakuryu bounced back from an upset loss the previous day.
Chasing a record-extending 44th top-level title, Hakuho had to work hard to defeat No. 1 maegashira Takayasu in the final bout of Day 3 at an eerily quiet Edion Arena Osaka, where spectators have been shut out as an emergency measure to combat the coronavirus.
Opening with his trademark face slap, Hakuho needed strength and footwork to overcome a determined Takayasu, who resisted being pushed over the straw before eventually succumbing to a frontal force-out.
The loss continued a frustrating run for injury-plagued former ozeki Takayasu (0-3), who occupied the sport’s second-highest rank just two tournaments ago.
Kakuryu (2-1) made short work of No. 2 Okinoumi, getting both an inside and outside grip before forcing the maegashira out backward.
The convincing victory was a welcome result for the 34-year-old yokozuna, who has failed to finish a tournament since winning the Emperor’s Cup in Nagoya last July.
With both yokozuna returning from injury at the current 15-day meet, Kakuryu stoked concerns about his health when he was overpowered by komusubi Hokutofuji on Monday.
Takakeisho (2-1), the sole ozeki in competition, was back among the winners following a surprise defeat the previous day.
The 169-kg powerhouse, who is eyeing a second makuuchi title, blew away komusubi Endo (1-2) in a forceful display.
After an exchange of blows, the ozeki delivered one powerful thrust to knock Endo off balance and then another to send him out of the ring.
Sekiwake Asanoyama, tipped as a contender before the tournament, improved to 3-0 by beating No. 1 Daieisho for the third meeting in a row.
Daieisho (0-3) delivered a heavy hit to start the bout, but Asanoyama showed impressive strength as he rallied back and pushed the former komusubi out.
Sekiwake Shodai (2-1) took his first loss of the meet against No. 3 Mitakeumi, who is seeking to return to the three sanyaku ranks below yokozuna.
Mitakeumi hit hard and low, then maintained his drive as Shodai tried to sidestep. The former sekiwake repelled a belt hold before pushing his way to the win.