Mongolian leaders Hakuho and Harumafuji appear to be headed for a showdown to decide the winner of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, with both defeating their opponents July 20 to stay unbeaten with just two days left.
Yokozuna Hakuho had a hard time, but came through against tough ozeki Baruto in the day's final bout.
He failed to keep Baruto off his belt, and it cost him. Hakuho had to fight off several attacks that could have ended his winning streak, including a couple of scares when he was lifted completely off his feet--one of the Estonian's favorite tactics. But as Baruto gradually lost steam, the yokozuna held him firm, then unleashed a throw that Baruto could not resist. It sent Baruto sailing across the ring and into the seats below.
Ozeki Harumafuji, meanwhile, demolished No. 8 maegashira Kaisei, pounding into him at the face-off while using his right hand to execute a powerful thrust to the throat. Harumafuji used that thrust to straighten Kaisei up, making it virtually impossible for the Brazilian to launch an attack of his own or even hold his ground. As Harumafuji drove forward, Kaisei (9-4) crumpled at the edge.
It was a perfect match for Harumafuji, and a great confidence-builder for the title-seeking ozeki as he heads into the final two days.
On July 21, Hakuho fights ozeki Kisenosato, while Harumafuji takes on ozeki Kotooshu. The two Mongolians are expected to square off in the tournament's finale on July 22.
Kisenosato won an old-school grappling match against ozeki Kotoshogiku. Both came out looking for the belt, but it was Kisenosato who had the momentum when they pushed at each other chest-to-chest. At 10-3, he can be quite satisfied with his performance, though he was never much of a challenger. Kotoshogiku could also finish in the double digits, since he has already marked nine wins.
Though also not a title contender, Mongolian ozeki Kakuryu marked one of his best bouts of what has been a disappointing tournament.
He came out strong against Kotooshu, grabbed the belt while keeping his own out of the big Bulgarian's reach, and then whipped Kotooshu off balance and twirled him to the dirt. Kakuryu, who has only been an ozeki for two tournaments and is still getting used to that position, now has seven wins. Kotooshu is 8-5, so while he hasn't been outstanding he at least won't be on the chopping block in September.
Sekiwake Goeido, 7-6, appeared to hit the dirt first as he and No. 4 maegashira Tochinoshin traded throws, which forced the judges to huddle after the referee called it in Goeido's favor. Tochinoshin was on his way over the edge, which caused the confusion, but the final ruling was that he outlasted the sekiwake, and the referee's decision was overturned.
The win puts the Georgian at 8-5.
Sekiwake Tochiozan took down komusubi Toyonoshima as soon as he leaned too far forward. The two fought for a belt hold, but Tochiozan let his upper body get too far ahead of his feet, which gave Toyonoshima an opening to move back and pull him down from behind. The two wrestlers are having bad tournaments. With Toyonoshima at 4-9 and Tochiozan 3-10, they will be facing demotions the next time around.
Rising to 7-6, komusubi Myogiryu pulled one win closer to a positive outcome in his first outing at his new rank by thrusting No. 5 maegashira Aran out of the ring. Aran, of Russia, has been fighting very well--he has nine wins--but he couldn't get a hold of Myogiryu. He found himself beating a hasty retreat soon after the face-off.
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