Monday, March 10, 2014

SUMO/ Mongolian dynamic trio looks impressive on Day 2

Mongolia's top trio--yokozuna duo Harumafuji and Hakuho, along with ozeki Kakuryu--sailed through their bouts to stay unbeaten on March 10, the second day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

Coming off the bench after sitting out the previous tournament with an injury, his first such absence since becoming a yokozuna, Harumafuji demolished top maegashira Endo, battering the rising young star at the face-off then pounding him into the dirt with an irresistible throw at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

It was the first time Endo--so new to the ring that he still doesn't have hair long enough to tie in a topknot--had faced a yokozuna. Harumafuji definitely showed him who's the boss. For now, at least.

Hakuho, the defending champion, had to take a couple of steps back as he calibrated his strategy against an incoming top maegashira Tamawashi. He was never in any real trouble, however, and once he got his wits back, he had no trouble pulling Tamawashi off balance. Hakuho is going for his 29th title, and is, once again, the man to beat.

Kakuryu, meanwhile, slapped komusubi Shohozan into submission then pulled him down by the back of the neck to seal his second win. Shohozan is 0-2.

Working his way out from under the big shadow of his Mongolian compatriots, Kakuryu has an outside shot at being boosted up to yokozuna, but he needs to put in a truly outstanding performance to do so. He came through in a big way in January, going right down to the wire with Hakuho but losing in a tie-breaker.

Ozeki Kotoshogiku, who has been something of a wildcard lately, bet on an arm lock to defeat komusubi Toyonoshima, but didn't have the footwork to back it up and was pushed grimacing to his first loss.

"I didn't fight very well yesterday,'' Toyonoshima said after the upset. "But I think it went pretty well today.''

He added that he is thinking now just of getting past the eight-win mark for his tournament goal.

Kisenosato had a sloppy outing, flailing for position as sekiwake Tochiozan plowed forward and lunged into his body at the edge. Fortunately for the ozeki, who was once seen as Japan's best chance at getting back into the yokozuna slots, he was able to get out of the way just at the right moment and stay on his feet for his second win as Tochiozan fell flat.

Former ozeki Kotooshu, of Bulgaria, lost to No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi without putting up much of a fight. The big sekiwake couldn't get a belthold and was chased backward around the ring until he had no choice but to step out.

Sekiwake Goeido also had a close call, but managed to win. He fought his way back from the brink despite a strong attack from maegashira No. 3 Kaisei. Kaisei was in control all the way to the rim, but Goeido stopped him, held his ground, and twisted out of trouble when Kaisei couldn't close the deal.

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