Mongolian rivals Hakuho and Harumafuji pulled one more step ahead of the rest of the pack at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 18, staying unbeaten after 11 days as their closest challenger, rank-and-filer Kaisei of Brazil, fell to his second loss.
Fighting like a true yokozuna, Hakuho came straight at ozeki Kotooshu, driving in chest-to-chest and never taking a step back. Kotooshu is 7-4.
Hakuho hasn't been at his best so far and is coming off his worst tournament as a yokozuna, but he has used his skills wisely, not taking too many risks and being patient enough to grab openings when they present themselves. He very rarely fails to win two tournaments in a row, so the smart money is still on his side.
But he is definitely going to have to earn it this time.
Ozeki Harumafuji slapped and thrust and grappled his way through a furious bout against ozeki Kisenosato. He appeared to get a slightly slow face-off, but let Kisenosato have it with painful slaps every time he tried to get inside and plunged in for a belt hold with his left. He used that to finish Kisenosato off, but it was a close, exciting match that Harumafuji won largely on his obvious desire to dominate.
The outcome also pretty much eliminates Kisenosato from the title race, since he has three losses and would almost need a miracle to pull off a comeback.
Moving up to 9-2, ozeki Kotoshogiku won without having to do anything but show up. New komusubi Myogiryu flew out of the blocks way too low and almost immediately had to touch his hand to the dirt in order to keep from doing a face plant. Myogiryu is 6-5, and hasn't been doing too badly at his new rank, but his bout on July 18 was a complete disaster.
Ozeki Baruto came back from the brink of defeat against Kakuryu, who had him reeling on the edge. Just when it looked like it was over, the giant Estonian used his long arms and body to their best advantage, lifting his fellow ozeki completely off the ground and depositing him outside the ring. It might well be too late for either wrestler to really make much of a difference--Baruto is 8-3, and Kakuryu is 6-5--but the fans clearly loved the sparks and the show of strength.
Sekiwake Goeido (6-5) got to take a shot at rising star Kaisei, a No. 8 maegashira from Brazil who had only lost one match going into the contest on July 18. Predictably enough, the sekiwake had no difficulty getting the upper hand, though Kaisei is big and has a lot of promise, and sent the Brazilian stumbling off balance and onto the dirt with his first throw attempt.
Sekiwake Tochiozan hit top maegashira Aminishiki all the way back to the edge, and as he teetered there nailed him with a powerful two-armed thrust that sent Aminishiki flying into the seats below the ring. The final hit was probably unnecessary, but it certainly put a punctuation mark on the bout. Tochiozan has had a frustrating tournament, with only three wins. Aminishiki also has failed to deliver and has nine losses.
Komusubi Toyonoshima (3-7) never recovered from a bad face-off as No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi drove forward to his second victory. Top maegashira Kyokutenho lost again, extending to 11 straight losses what was already the worst showing ever by a wrestler who had won the tournament before.
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