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Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

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Head first: Kisenosato takes down Okinoumi at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday. KYODO

Dominating Baruto chalks up another victory


Baruto is building his case as the man standing between Hakuho and his third consecutive championship title — and the Estonian ozeki hasn't looked this dominant since his debut at sumo's second-highest rank.

Baruto overpowered rank-and-filer Kitataiki on Sunday to remain undefeated with an 8-0 record in a share of the lead with the lone yokozuna as the second week of the 15-day basho kicked off in front of another full house at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Ozeki pair Kisenosato and Kotooshu remained one behind the co-leaders at 7-1.

Baruto, who won eight in a row for the first time since his debut at ozeki at the 2010 summer basho, got his left hand on Kitataiki's (1-7) mawashi and calmly executed an overarm throw to keep a clean slate.

"I got an outside grip on his mawashi. I wanted to grab it from the face-off and had a good look at it," said Baruto, who is still in search of his first title. "We still have a long way to go, so I'm not thinking about the title right now. It's better not to do that."

Hakuho, whose 22nd career title victory would place him in a tie with former yokozuna Takanohana, took his longest thus far to dispatch of third-ranked Takayasu (4-4) in the day's final bout but pulled down the 21-year-old with a slap down to remain unbeaten.

"Today I wrestled and took a good look at my opponent," said Hakuho, who took almost 10 seconds to dispose of the No. 3 maegashira, having needed just one second to devour Kitataiki like a pitbull the previous day. "He made a hard charge at me, so it was a good bout."

Asked his thoughts on Baruto's outstanding sumo thus far, Hakuho said, "We're already at the halfway point. I think that he is fulfilling his responsibility as ozeki."

Ozeki Kotoshogiku (4-4), who has gotten off to a nightmare start to 2012, was again on the losing end as he was sent sprawling onto his belly by Miyabiyama, who improved to 2-6 in his return to sumo's fourth rank of komusubi.

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