OSAKA – Yokozuna Hakuho bounced back from his first loss and collected his 10th win of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday to remain in a two-way tie for the lead with rank-and-filer Aoiyama.
The Mongolian-born yokozuna charged out of the gates in the final bout at Edion Arena Osaka and plowed straight through his Day 11 opponent, komusubi Hokutofuji.
Hokutofuji (2-9) went into the bout having beaten Hakuho three times in nine career matchups but has struggled to gain momentum at this tournament since beating yokozuna Kakuryu on Day 2.
Hakuho (10-1) is chasing a record-extending 44th title but hit a roadblock when he gave up the sole lead after a shock upset on Day 10.
The other co-leader, No. 13 Aoiyama, kicked off Day 11 action in the top division by beating rookie Kotonowaka and retaining a shot at his maiden title.
Aoiyama (10-1) was nearly pulled down by the lowly No. 18 maegashira in his initial charge, but the Bulgarian recovered and used his 193-kg frame to drive Kotonowaka (7-4) to the straw and thrust him out.
The next rung on the leaderboard also remained the same, with Kakuryu headlining a group of four on the heels of Hakuho and Aoiyama.
Kakuryu (9-2) was made to work by sekiwake Shodai (5-6) but prevailed in the end. The yokozuna was forced back with several strong thrusts but denied Shodai a hold on his belt and kept him upright while pushing him out. Shodai has yet to beat Kakuryu in 13 attempts.
Asanoyama (9-2) defeated No. 5 Ryuden (4-7) and is now three wins away from meeting one of the benchmarks for an ozeki promotion — 33 wins over a span of three tournaments.
The sekiwake countered a strong initial hit from Ryuden then got hold of his opponent’s belt before muscling him out.
No. 3 Mitakeumi (9-2) survived a scare against No. 1 Daieisho (7-4) to claim his third consecutive win since suffering back-to-back losses against the yokozuna on Saturday and Sunday.
The former sekiwake was taken back and nearly drilled over the straw, but deftly maneuvered to the side and used Daieisho’s momentum to send him out instead.
No. 9 Takanosho (9-2) pushed out No. 12 Ishiura (7-4) to keep his place on the leaderboard.
Takakeisho (5-6), the lone ozeki, fell to his sixth loss after getting beaten by No. 4 Abi (5-6). Takakeisho employed his tried-and-true pushing technique but had no response for Abi’s nimble footwork and was shoved out. The pair have now split their four meetings in the top division.
Endo improved to 6-5 with a win over No. 5 Onosho (6-5). The komusubi gave up early ground against Onosho, who handed Hakuho his first loss of the meet to zero fanfare on Tuesday, but circled around and bulldozed his opponent off the dohyo.
The 15-day grand tournament is being held behind closed doors for the first time in the sport’s history to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.