The difference between ozeki Terunofuji and ozeki-wannabe Tochiozan has been Terunofuji’s (so far) consistent ability to beat maegashira. Tamawashi (3-7) gave him quite the challenge today and for the first part of the match appeared to have the upper hand. He wouldn’t let the ozeki get in to get a belt grip or an arm bar. He kept fending off, fending off, and even got Terunofuji to wobble a bit off balance. An extra shove when they were on the edge could have pulled off the upset. But once tired, Terunofuji got his belt grip and it was effectively over. He’ll face a real challenge tomorrow in an effective Kotoshogiku (8-2).
Tochiozan, on the other hand, has three losses to maegashira. He finally picked up a 6th win against Uncle Takarafuji (4-6) by going back to basics. He cut off the ring, and worked him out backwards for a yorikiri win. Takarafuji’s been in the same predicament: strong start, winless the last 4 days before today. However, this 4 day stretch was fought against Sekiwake, Ozeki, and Yokozuna – one loss to a maegashira. So Takarafuji will still have a decent chance of a strong finish after his bout versus Kisenosato tomorrow. Tochiozan, meanwhile, will face Kakuryu tomorrow and still has two ozeki, a sekiwake and komusubi. Let’s say Tochiozan’s kachi-koshi will be a huge challenge, nevermind the ozeki run.
Ikioi got Endo (5-5) to slip. Not exactly powerful sumo but a win’s a win. He’s got Sokokurai (7-3) tomorrow.
(more to come)