Unbeaten sekiwake Kakuryu won a crucial victory over defending champion Baruto at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on March 14, while yokozuna Hakuho flipped his fourth opponent to the dirt for an easy win.
In a characteristically macho display of strength and confidence, Hakuho utterly demolished No. 2 maegashira Tokitenku in the final match of the day before the Osaka crowd to keep his perfect record.
But the big bout of the day was the nail-biter between Baruto, who is trying for promotion to yokozuna, and Kakuryu, who is shooting for ozeki. At the start, Kakuryu was hit hard by Baruto's thrusts, but slipped through to get a hold on the belt. He worked his position well, but Baruto managed to break his grip and the two lunged at each other anew. Kakuryu again gained the inside advantage and drove Baruto to his knees at the edge.
"It went very well,'' Kakuryu said. "I want to maintain my pace to the end.''
Baruto is now under a lot more pressure. To get promoted, he needs a championship and can only afford to drop a couple of matches.
Undefeated ozeki Harumafuji used a couple of well-placed throat thrusts to drive top maegashira Tochinowaka (1-3) off balance and into retreat over the edge. Ozeki Kotoshogiku, with one loss, drove out No. 3 maegashira Kyokutenho, though he almost slipped to defeat as he pushed ahead.
Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu overpowered top maegashira Myogiryu in their first match against each other. Kotooshu has one loss, and Myogiryu, a promising up-and-comer testing out new ground in the upper ranks, has yet to win.
Kisenosato lumbered out to a terrible face-off against new komusubi Gagamaru, but the winless Georgian couldn't capitalize on the opportunity. Kisenosato recovered well enough to thrust him out and raise his record to 2-2. Though Kisenosato is now on a two-win roll, the bout wasn't pretty and won't dispel doubts about how he will fare in the days ahead.
On the losing side, giant-killer sekiwake Aminishiki failed to budge komusubi Tochiozan, who absorbed a strong attack and countered nicely with a classic thrust-and-drive. Both are now 3-1.
No. 7 maegashira Takayasu is the only rank-and-file wrestler who is still unbeaten.
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