The title race at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament narrowed to yokozuna Hakuho and ozeki Harumafuji on July 19, with both still unbeaten as they round the corner into the last three days of competition.
Hakuho turned Kotoshogiku (9-3) around after the face-off then launched a barrage of thrusts to the ozeki's chest and chin to send him staggering out of the ring and into the spectator seats. Hakuho is gaining momentum as he recovers from his terrible showing in May, when he had a personal worst five losses as the lone yokozuna. If he can pull this off, it will be his 23rd championship.
Harumafuji got bashed at the face-off and took a couple of steps backward as he tried to get back in the fight against Mongolian compatriot Kakuryu. But in a very smart move, he went in with his left to compensate while twisting his body to set up a throw. Kakuryu (6-6) was totally unprepared, and Harumafuji lifted him off the ground and sent him flat onto his back.
It was a perfect "uwate-nage,'' or overhand throw, and a great way to mark win No. 12 for Harumafuji, who is looking more than ever like champion material.
With the July 19 results, it is now a race between the two Mongolians--who have yet to fight each other. Their closest competitors all have three losses.
After two false starts, which is unusual at this level, Kisenosato ran Baruto out of the ring for his ninth win. The two had trouble getting the timing of their face-off to sync in the day's first ozeki duel, and Baruto appeared to think the third bout was another no-go. He put up only a token defense as Kisenosato rushed him and was easily beaten. But the referee saw it as a fair start and Kisenosato got the nod. Baruto, no longer a factor in the title race, dropped to 8-4.
Kotooshu was impervious to new komusubi Myogiryu's attacks and got his eighth win. The Bulgarian ozeki came out a bit high, but balanced himself well as he plodded forward and absorbed everything Myogiryu could throw at him. In the end, Myogiryu tried to lunge forward when he was out of position and stumbled to the ground. The loss completes Myogiryu's bouts against the yokozuna and ozeki ranks, so he can breathe a bit easier. But he still needs two wins to end up in the black.
Struggling sekiwake Tochiozan, 3-9, fell flat on his belly as No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi yanked him off balance with an armlock throw. Okinoumi is also 3-9.
Sekiwake Goeido, who is having a better time this competition, hit top maegashira Kyokutenho head on, maneuvered around to his left and rushed forward again. He met little resistance from the Mongolian, who after winning the championship in the previous tournament hasn't won a bout yet. Goeido has seven wins, including successful bouts against two ozeki--Kisenosato and Baruto--and appears likely to go home with a winning record.
Komusubi Toyonoshima was in control right up until the end, when he tried to get in a thrust at the edge, but top maegashira Aminishiki blocked his move and pushed into him from the side. Aminishiki ended up getting inside and twisting Toyonoshima off his feet just in time. Both wrestlers can be very exciting when they hit their groove, but they have had a less than brilliant tournament and have only three wins each.
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