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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012

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Tough and focused: Hakuho (left) emerges victorious in a match against Kisenosato on Wednesday in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament. KYODO

Hakuho rebounds; Baruto still leads

Kyodo

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho relaunched his bid for a third consecutive title with a satisfying victory over Kisenosato on Wednesday, while Estonian ozeki Baruto also won handsomely to maintain his slender lead heading into the final stretch of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Kisenosato famously ended Hakuho's 63-bout winning streak at the 2010 Kyushu Basho, but there was only ever going to be one winner in the day's finale as the yokozuna quickly took control at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Looking to rebound from a shock first loss to Kakuryu on Tuesday, Hakuho wasted no time in grabbing Kisenosato's arm to set himself up for the kill, ushering out the ozeki to move into double digits at 10-1.

Kisenosato dropped to 9-2 in his debut at sumo's second rank, tied with rank-and-filer Tochiozan.

In the preceding bout, ozeki Harumafuji (8-3) stood no chance as a scowling Baruto ripped into the Mongolian with a flurry of meaty thrusts, easily shoving him over the straw bales.

Former night club bouncer Baruto, whose easy smile and quirky sense of humor has endeared him to sumo fans, is seeking his first Emperor's Cup.

Ozeki Kotooshu dropped further off the pace as Kakuryu claimed another major scalp, the Mongolian sekiwake picking his moment to upend the Bulgarian with a perfectly executed "shitatenage" underarm throw, leaving both men at 8-3.

"I am just trying to wrestle my brand of sumo in each bout and hopefully can keep going strong through the end of the tournament," said Kakuryu.

Kotoshogiku, who has been frustratingly inconsistent in his second tournament at ozeki, moved back into the winning column at 6-5 with a routine forceout win over fourth-ranked maegashira Homasho (5-6).

Sekiwake Toyonoshima traipsed back to the locker room contemplating a majority of losses after being rammed out by top-ranked maegashira Takekaze with alarming ease, while it was a day of mixed fortunes for sumo's fourth rank of komusubi.

Wakakoyu slapped down No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi (2-9) to pick up only his third win, but Miyabiyama was sent out by a pulling overarm throw and condemned to a losing record by Aminishiki (6-5).



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