Defending champion Baruto fell to a huge upset at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on March 21, while yokozuna Hakuho and sekiwake Kakuryu both won to move into double digits and stay tied for the lead at 10-1.
Hakuho, who is the odds-on favorite despite Kakuryu's surge, slid back twice before railroading ozeki Kotoshogiku out. Though his footing could have been better, he was never in trouble and seems to be as determined as ever to prove why he is the only yokozuna in the ring.
Ozeki Kotooshu gave Baruto a big surprise, however, driving in for the belt and using his position to move the Estonian off kilter. As Baruto fumbled for a belt hold, Kotooshu plowed forward, taking them both out of the ring, with Baruto hitting first. The loss was a major blow for Baruto, who needs to win this tournament--or at least get 13 wins or better--to be considered for promotion to yokozuna. He is at 9-2, and Kotooshu 7-4.
Well on his way toward promotion to ozeki, Kakuryu held his own against top maegashira Myogiryu, who came at him several times with barrages of thrusts. As soon as Myogiryu (3-8) leaned in too far, Kakuryu deftly sent him to the dirt. It wasn't his most aggressive bout, but Kakuryu kept out of danger and showed his skill at reading his opponent's weaknesses.
Ozeki Harumafuji, with nine wins, was too fast and too strong for Kisenosato, who has been struggling. The fiery Mongolian threw Kisenosato off balance with a failed throw, then immediately launched another that put Kisenosato on his back. Kisenosato has five losses in his second tournament at sumo's second highest rank.
Sekiwake Aminishiki repeatedly nailed top maegashira Tochinowaka with thrusts to the throat, but couldn't follow up with a steady enough attack to drive him out and got shoved over the edge as soon as Tochinowaka could get his bearings. They are both 4-7.
In other bouts, komusubi Gagamaru bashed No. 2 maegashira Yoshikaze (3-8) out of the ring with his explosive thrusts. The win showcased Gagamaru's strengths, but also his vulnerability. Though Yoshikaze was sent into a quick backspin by his attack, Gagamaru (4-7) had trouble controlling his own momentum because he is so big. Once his 199-kilogram frame starts moving, it is hard to stop, and when his opponents get out of his way he is prone to fall.
Komusubi Tochiozan fell flat on his belly as Russia's No. 4 maegashira Aran slapped him down at the face-off. Aran is doing well, with seven wins, but Tochiozan has had a tough outing. One more loss will mean an overall losing record, and his chances of keeping his rank are virtually nil.
In the lower ranks, No. 16 maegashira Shotenro fell to his second defeat.
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