Ozeki Baruto pounded his way to win No. 11 on Jan. 18 as yokozuna Hakuho fought off a tough attack from Kisenosato to stay one loss back at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Baruto blasted fellow ozeki Harumafuji off the ring before the Mongolian could gain a hold or put up a fight. All of the Estonian's thrusts were effective as he moved forward. He has been surprisingly stable so far and made Harumafuji, who is 8-3, look like an easy mark. If he is ever going to capture a title away from Hakuho, now appears to be his chance.
Determined not to drop two bouts in a row, Hakuho poured it on against Kisenosato, who grabbed an arm hold and appeared to be taking the offensive right after the face-off. The Mongolian grand champion wasn't about to give up, however, and broke the hold. He then fired off a series of thrusts that Kisenosato couldn't absorb.
Kisenosato, debuting at ozeki, also went into the bout with just one loss, so the win by Hakuho was crucial. Baruto and Kisenosato face off on Jan. 19.
Kotoshogiku was driven back by No. 4 maegashira Homasho (5-6), but turned the tables and fought his way to his sixth win. The ozeki can't afford to lose any more bouts. This is only his second tournament at the rank, and he is not making a particularly strong impression as a force to be reckoned with. Other than his defeat to Kisenosato, all of his losses have been to rank-and-file wrestlers he should have beaten.
Giant-killing sekiwake Kakuryu dug in his heels against ozeki Kotooshu (8-3) and then flipped the Bulgarian to the ground in a beautifully timed move. Kakuryu is doing more than his share to keep the tournament interesting. He beat Hakuho on Jan. 17 in a huge upset, and is shaping up to be a good contender for promotion. He now has eight wins. He was 10-5 in November and 9-6 before that.
"I'm taking it one bout at a time,'' he said. "I'm doing my best.''
Sluggish and off target, sekiwake Toyonoshima was battered over the edge by top maegashira Takekaze, who marked his second win. Toyonoshima (3-8) has lost his last six bouts, though he beat Kisenosato last week.
Komusubi Miyabiyama was toppled yet again after a poor attempt at stopping top maegashira Aminishiki (6-5). The former ozeki has certainly seen better days, and hasn't done well enough to keep his new title. He has won only three bouts, and looked outclassed most of the time. Komusubi Wakakoyu, meanwhile, slapped down No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi (2-9). But he is having an equally dismal tournament and also stands at 3-8.
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