Undefeated Mongolians Hakuho and Harumafuji won yet again Saturday--though the yokozuna resorted to a trick at the face-off--and will square off in the first final-day showdown between wrestlers with perfect records in 29 years to decide the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament title.
Hakuho was clearly annoyed by opponent Kisenosato's two false starts, pushing him after the first one and then glaring at him after the second. Whether that led him to go for the tricky face off--normally a no-no for a yokozuna because it is considered cowardly--when they finally launched out at each other is hard to say. But it turned out to be the perfect strategy. Kisenosato blazed forward, expecting a hard hit, and found nothing but air as the yokozuna jumped to the side.
Harumafuji, meanwhile, made quick work of Kotooshu, hitting him hard and slipping in for the belt with his left as he simultaneously came up from a low posture to land a solid thrust with his right into the Bulgarian's chest. That was enough to send Kotooshu over the edge before he could mount even a token defense. The two went into the match tied in their past contests against each other, at 17-17, and Harumafuji's easy win underscores just how determined he is in this tournament.
The two Mongolians will fight each other in the final bout on July 22. If Hakuho wins, it will be his 23rd title, and his ninth with a perfect record. Harumafuji has two titles.
Moving up to 10-4, ozeki Kotoshogiku drove out Baruto in a fairly close bout. Kotoshogiku was the attacker most of the way, but he had difficulty doing much against Baruto's superior size and weight until he managed to push forward and up, while keeping Baruto from grabbing his belt. Baruto is 8-6.
Mongolian ozeki Kakuryu won by default over sekiwake Goeido, who pulled out at 7-7 after struggling with injury. The win puts Kakuryu at 8-6.
Sekiwake Tochiozan couldn't get it going against No. 3 maegashira Shohozan. Shohozan (7-7) got the better of him at the face off, and Tochiozan tried in vain to hold his ground as the maegashira pushed ahead. It was a good bout for Shohozan, who went into the match with a 1-1 record against Tochiozan, and he did a fine job of keeping Tochiozan off his belt.
But at 3-11, Tochiozan is well off his best, so Shohozan had an easier chore than he normally would have.
No. 2 maegashira Aoiyama was slow but completely dominated komusubi Toyonoshima with his powerful thrusts. The Bulgarian rising star got the advantage by driving a palm into Toyonoshima's chin, then following up with his well-placed thrusting attack. Aoiyama needs another win to finish with a winning record overall, and if he gets that, it is possible he could be looking forward to a promotion to komusubi. Toyonoshima will almost certainly be headed in the other direction, since he already has 10 losses.
Komusubi Myogiryu was slow at the start, which allowed maegashira No. 6 Homasho to drive forward at full throttle. Myogiryu didn't have the room he needed to get a thrusting attack going and he wasn't able to get inside before Homasho dropped him flat on his back.
Myogiryu is still one victory shy of a winning record in his komusubi debut. Homasho, who was a komusubi last time out, has an 8-6 record.Top maegashira Kyokutenho, the title winner in May, finally won his first bout. He took down maegashira No. 12 Sadanofuji to snap his losing streak at 13.
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