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Friday, July 20, 2012
Hakuho, Harumafuji chase title
NAGOYA — Yokozuna Hakuho on Thursday ensured the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament will be a two-horse race down the stretch.
On the 12th day of competition at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho improved to 12-0 by handing ozeki Kotoshogiku his third defeat of the 15-day event. Ozeki Harumafuji remained perfect by winning the previous match. Since the two are due to face each other over the weekend, at least one will finish no worse than 13-2.
Kotoshogiku put up a valiant fight, but lacked the horsepower and guile needed to stave off Hakuho's relentless attack. Kotoshogiku's third loss left him tied with ozeki Kisenosato, Georgian maegashira Aran and Brazilan-born maegashira Kaisei with the best records behind the leading duo.
Harumafuji coolly absorbed the charge of fellow ozeki Kakuryu (6-6), snatched a left-hand hold on the back of his opponent's mawashi and executed a swift and precise overarm throw.
After a pair of false starts, Kisenosato outfoxed fellow ozeki Baruto (8-4) and smashed into the Estonian's right shoulder. Baruto was caught off balance and did not regain it until his right foot was on the wrong side of the straw.
Bulgarian Kotooshu dominated a sloppy match with komusubi Myogiryu (6-6) to secure his eighth win. The much larger ozeki drove his opponent back on the tachiai. When Myogiryu lost his footing, Kotooshu crushed him to the sand.
Kisenosato, whose bout on Wednesday against fellow ozeki Baruto was twice restarted due to his ambiguous touches on the tachiai, was called into the judges room and given a warning at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.
Kisenosato was twice returned to the starting blocks when he leapt out of his stance without touching both hands to the surface of the dohyo. Asahiyama, the Japan Sumo Association's vice deputy manager of judging, who officiated the match, warned Kisenosato but the wrestler did not acknowledge him.
"His hand movement is poor, his attitude is poor," Asahiyama said. "He may have simply been immersed in the heat of competition, but as an ozeki he has to set an example for those below him."
His third effort was little better, but he was not restarted. Kisenosato clearly got the jump on his opponent and handily beat his rival.