The race between Mongolian rivals Hakuho and Harumafuji heated up July 16 as both tossed tough opponents to the ground to maintain their unbeaten records after nine days at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
But with six days of yokozuna-on-ozeki bouts ahead, the rest of the ozeki pack remains within comeback range.
Yokozuna Hakuho threw Goeido onto his back after almost losing right at the start when the sekiwake moved to the side and let Hakuho go flying by. Hakuho stumbled but quickly got his feet back under him and jumped right back into the fray. He took his time getting into a good position--probably being extra cautious since Goeido beat him the last time they met. As soon as he did, he launched his throw, and put a little extra power into it, just to remind Goeido who is the boss.
Ozeki veteran Harumafuji, meanwhile, won a big showdown against Baruto, using his speed and wits to confound the Estonian as he came in for his usual head-on attack. Harumafuji moved quickly to the left and spun Baruto off balance and onto his backside before he had a chance to get back in the fight. This is the third time that Harumafuji has kept a streak going this long from the first day, and the first two times led to his two tournament championships.
Baruto has now lost two in a row and could have trouble recovering. But with Hakuho starting six days of bouts against ozeki opponents from July 17, the race is by no means over.
Kisenosato was too solid for Kakuryu in the tournament's first all-ozeki bout on July 16.
Though the Mongolian came out low and hard, Kisenosato absorbed his attack and drove him back to the edge. Kakuryu twisted away and launched a series of slaps, but Kisenosato was unfazed and thrust Kakuryu out. The win was key--both went in with two losses, so Kakuryu is now in a very difficult position, while Kisenosato has more breathing room.
Kotoshogiku, now in his fifth tournament at ozeki, cleared the eight win mark with a push-out victory over No. 3 maegashira Wakakoyu (2-7). The ozeki had the superior face-off, but couldn't immediately capitalize on it, so he reworked his attack and got in a better position and blazed forward again. The second time around there was no doubt.
Ozeki Kotooshu fell to his third loss, this time against komusubi Toyonoshima. He still is having trouble with his injured right leg, and he very clearly could not use his footwork to his advantage. Toyonoshima (2-7) drove him around to the side and shoved him down. Although the big Bulgarian didn't fall completely, he touched his hand to the dirt.
Struggling sekiwake Tochiozan had to earn his keep, but eventually whipped top maegashira Kyokutenho over the edge for his second win. Kyokutenho had Tochiozan in retreat, but seemed to lose his concentration, and Tochiozan used that opening to move out of the way and drive him over the rim. Kyokutenho won the last tournament and at nearly 38 years old set a record as the oldest winner yet, but he has shown nothing of that spark this time out. He still has not won yet.
New komusubi Myogiryu (5-4) lunged out at Bulgaria's No. 2 maegashira Aoiyama (3-6) and was sent flying out of the ring as Aoiyama parried to the side. Myogiryu's mistake was coming out too low, which made his attack almost an act of desperation. Aoiyama read his opponent well and held out nicely for the win.
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