Lone ozeki Takakeisho easily outmuscled rank-and-file opponent Kagayaki to stay unbeaten Friday at the November Grand Sumo Tournament.
The only remaining competitor at sumo’s second-highest rank following the injury withdrawals of Asanoyama and Shodai, Takakeisho pushed and thrusted his way to a decisive win over No. 3 maegashira Kagayaki in the final bout of Day 6 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kagayaki (2-4) came into the 15-day tournament with a 3-2 edge over Takakeisho from their previous meetings, but never troubled the ozeki this time around.
Knocking his opponent back with a powerful opening charge, Takakeisho delivered another pair of thrusts before slinging the maegashira in the opposite direction and pushing him down.
With both yokozuna, Hakuho and Kakuryu, having also pulled out before the tournament due to injury, the pressure is on Takakeisho to win his second top-division championship.
The only other undefeated wrestler from the elite sanyaku ranks below yokozuna, komusubi Terunofuji, also improved to 6-0 by overpowering No. 1 Kiribayama (1-5).
The two Mongolians each took a belt grip at the opening clash, but Terunofuji only needed a moment to set his feet before easily driving and lifting the maegashira over the straw bales.
Terunofuji, who is aiming for his second Emperor’s Cup of the year, looms as the biggest obstacle to Takakeisho’s title hopes.
The 28-year-old is in imposing form after posting a winning 8-5-2 record at the September meet following his storybook championship victory in July.
That tournament marked his return to the elite makuuchi division following a two-and-a-half-year absence, during which he underwent multiple knee surgeries and plummeted to the fifth tier of professional sumo.
New sekiwake Takanosho (4-2) outlasted No. 4 Hokutofuji in the day’s marathon penultimate bout.
After the pair locked up in the middle, Takanosho, a Chiganoura stablemate of Takakeisho, fought his way out of an awkward position and slapped down former komusubi Hokutofuji (4-2) as he made an advance.
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (4-2) displayed patience and strong technique as he forced out No. 3 Okinoumi (4-2).
After fighting through Okinoumi’s guard to take a double inside grip, Mitakeumi waited for an opening before wheeling his opponent to the perimeter and over the straw.
Komusubi Takayasu improved to 2-4 with an ugly win against No. 1 Wakatakakage (1-5). The former ozeki absorbed a barrage of blows to the face and body before slinging his opponent down to the clay.
Among the rank-and-file, No. 14 Chiyonokuni (6-0) stayed unbeaten in his return to the makuuchi by slapping down No. 11 Enho.
The struggle continued for the wildly popular Enho, the smallest wrestler in the division at 92 kilograms, who remained winless at 0-6 and on course for a fourth straight losing tournament.
No. 17 Shimanoumi (5-1) relinquished his unblemished record with a force-out loss to giant No. 13 Ichinojo (2-4), who is fighting to cement his place in the top flight after returning to the makuuchi division in September.
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