Defending champion Hakuho proved he's a tough contender even with a broken finger May 18 by dealing a painful defeat to leader Kisenosato, who falls to a 10-3 tie with two rank-and-file wrestlers--Tochiozan and Kyokutenho--that could mean the title race in the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament will go right down to the wire.
Hakuho barreled out at Kisenosato and railroaded him over the edge. The two fell together, but Kisenosato's arm hit the dirt first.
Hakuho has four losses, and though his situation seemed to be pretty hopeless after he dropped three straight matches he now has a glimmer of hope, especially if Kisenosato loses to Harumafuji on May 19.
Harumafuji, meanwhile, humiliated Baruto, nailing him at the face-off and then thrusting him out as he tried to regain his footing. The Estonian came out high and tried to come over Harumafuji's shoulders, but it's an old trick and Harumafuji had him pegged before he could work it. Though it was crucial loss for Baruto, it didn't help Harumafuji that much. He already has six defeats and is out of the title race. But he can still make a majority of wins by May 20.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku also took a big fall for his fifth loss. Sekiwake Goeido (7-6) got inside and flipped him off balance before he could get into position after a weak face-off. Kotoshogiku started the tournament strong, winning his first six bouts, but has faded since, much to the disappointment of his many fans.
In a battle of ozekis, Kotooshu lifted Kakuryu over the edge after the Mongolian got nowhere with a shallow belt hold. The Bulgarian was able to dominate from the start as Kakuryu came out too low, and used his powerful arms to their best advantage. Both ozeki are 8-5. Though Kakuryu can do better, he has put in a reasonably good showing under pressure in his ozeki debut, and should be an interesting competitor to follow in the future.
Komusbi Aminishiki (7-6) got the better start and took the fight to No. 4 maegashira Tochiozan, but then he faded as Tochiozan turned on his own barrage of thrusts and slaps. Tochiozan managed to power his way through and though he fell to his belly, Aminishiki was already safely out of the ring. He squares off against Kakuryu next.
No. 7 maegashira Kyokutenho defeated No. 11 maegashira Sadanofuji for his 10th win, which means he is a title contender although he hasn't had to fight any of the top wrestlers because of his low rank. That ends on May 19, when he has to take on Kotooshu.
In other bouts on May 18, struggling sekiwake Toyonoshima, who has lost five of his last seven bouts, was blasted out by No. 3 maegashira Takekaze, who has only five wins. Toyonoshima, who beat Hakuho in the highlight of his tournament, now is at 6-7 and will have to be on his best form to end with a winning record.
Komusubi Homasho (3-10) had a fairly easy time against No. 2 maegashira Gagamaru (4-9) and won on the strength of his thrusts. Though Gagamaru is big--he weighs a massive 199 kilograms--he is slow and can be clumsy when he needs to move quickly into a new position. Homasho took advantage of that weakness.
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