Undefeated ozeki Harumafuji and lone yokozuna Hakuho, who is one loss behind, both won their bouts on Sept. 22, setting up a final-day showdown to decide the championship of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
If Harumafuji wins, he will become sumo's newest grand champion.
The whole contest could have ended on Day 14, but Hakuho made it clear he is not going to give up the spotlight easily. As soon as his bout against ozeki Kisenosato began, he exploded forward, pounded his victim, and dropped the 10-4 ozeki onto his belly at the center of the ring as Harumafuji looked on from the sidelines.
Hakuho, who has 22 championships to his name but failed to win the previous two tournaments, has been under intense pressure to re-establish himself as the undisputed king of the ring. He was a fireball of energy in his bouts Thursday and Friday. To keep his hopes of a comeback alive, he had to beat ozeki Kisenosato, and he went in favored to win, with a 26-8 record in their previous pairings.
Still, Harumafuji remains the man to beat.
He took a big step toward promotion to yokozuna with a commanding win over Mongolian compatriot Kakuryu. Including his 15-straight wins in July, he has now won 30 consecutive matches. Kakuryu (10-4) is strong wrestler, but he was no match for Harumafuji, who blasted him out in a straight line with a flawless drive forward.
No. 5 maegashira Tochiozan marked another upset, this time by deconstructing sekiwake Goeido's attack and heaving him over the edge. Tochiozan is the only wrestler to beat Hakuho so far this tournament, and now has nine wins. Goeido hasn't been doing badly, either, though he remains one shy of a winning record.
Sekiwake Myogiryu claimed his 10th win largely because No. 5 maegashira Takekaze botched his face-off and was never in a position to either attack or defend himself. Myogiryu sealed the win by thrusting at Takekaze's throat, which set him stumbling forward. All Myogiryu had to do next was shove him out from behind. Myogiryu has a lot to be happy about this tournament, his record is excellent for a new sekiwake.
This has been a very tough competition for the komusubi duo, but they also both won in style.
Komusubi Tochinoshin, of Georgia, jumped out of harm's way as No. 4 maegashira Toyohibiki came flying out at the start. The move was timed just right, and Toyohibiki flew forward and then down to the dirt. Tochinoshin has only five wins, however.
Bulgarian komusubi Aoiyama, making his debut at the rank, nailed No. 3 maegashira Homasho in the chest with a thrust just as Homasho was lurching forward. The thrust sent Homasho down hard and gave Aoiyama, who has been struggling to develop his balance under fire, his fourth win. Homasho has eight wins, three of them against ozeki opponents.
In the rank and file, three wrestlers have put in standout performances and have already achieved 10 wins. They are No. 9 maegashira Takayasu, No. 11 maegashira Kyokutenho, who won the tournament in May, and No. 8 maegshira Okinoumi.
- « Prev
- Next »