Hakuho Takes The Record, Aoiyama Remains One Behind
Day 13 brought the long expected celebration of yet another record to Yokozuna Hakuho’s name. The sumo world is rightly celebrating the man and his great achievements. Hakuho’s excellence may have saved sumo on more than one occasion, and the fact that he continues to dominate the sport this far into his career is a testament to his love of all things sumo.
On the eve of his record achievement, the Japanese press began to talk of Hakuho taking a step he has resisted this far – seeking Japanese citizen ship and securing an enduring role in the sumo kyokai. Hakuho loves being Mongolian, but in the past several months, there has been discussions between the kyokai and Team Hakuho about his future. While we are all enjoying seeing the greatest rikishi in modern times continue to win match after match, the day when he will retire is not so very far away. What will sumo do to continue to bask in the publicity and excellence that Hakuho brings to the sport?
Meanwhile, the man mountain that is Aoiyama was declared the winner in a strange bout with Kagayaki. Rather than try to describe it, I encourage readers to watch it via Youtube (Kintamayama) or the NHK feed later today. With his win, he remains at 2 losses and is in a position to contest for the yusho against Hakuho should the Yokozuna manage to lose any of his upcoming matches against Harumafuji or Goeido. On the extreme outside range of likeliness, there is a bizzare chance that there could be a Hakuho / Aoiyama play off on the final day. Hakuho has an 18-1 record against Aoiyama, so it would likely be some kind of beating applied should it come to pass.
Chiyonokuni defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyonokuni’s turn around from a really crummy first few days has been dramatic. With his next win, he will secure his winning record and a likely return to the top half of Makuuchi for the fall basho. Both men landed solid mawashi grips early and it was a battle of strength. Several times Sadanoumi nearly shook him off, but Chiyonokuni was able to get him to the bales and lift him out.
Nishikigi defeats Okinoumi – Continued respect to Nishikigi, who is giving it everything he can muster every day. he is now one win from staying in Makuuchi. Nishikigi got inside early and applied the pressure. Okinoumi seems to have really faded, most likely due to injuries.
Chiyomaru defeats Daieisho – Excellent tsuppari battle that locks in Chiyomaru’s kachi-koshi and ensures he will not be back in Juryo in septepber.
Shohozan defeats Onosho – Big Guns picks up his kachi-koshi against Onosho. Although Onosho has been fighting well this basho, this match was all Shohozan from the start.
Tochiozan defeats Takarafuji – Tochiozan shows no signs of slowing down. He is now in double digit wins, and I would guess headed for a special prize. He has had an outstanding basho. Today’s match was another calm, focused effort by Tochiozan. He was able to get inside on Takarafuji, and controlled him from there.
Kotoshogiku defeats Ura – Ura does not even offer a stiff challenge to Kotoshogiku, and I suspect this was a strategic loss to protect himself from further injury. Kotoshogiku’s chances of kachi-koshi once again rise, and it becomes increasingly possible he can retain his san’yaku slot at least one more basho.
Yoshikaze defeats Ikioi – Ikioi really put up an excellent struggle, but like so much of this basho he came out the loser at the end. Ikioi has strength and skill, but his performance has been lagging as late. I would love to see him geanki once more.
Tochinoshin defeats Mitakeumi – In spite of the really great performance Tochinoshin has had the entire basho, he was unable to secure his winning record until today. The bout with Mitakeumi quickly went to the mawashi, and Mitakeumi could not out-muscle one of the strongest men in sumo. Mitakeumi now needs both final bouts to be wins if he wants to stake any claim towards a (in my opinion premature) Ozeki campaign.
Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi is now in real danger of losing his Sekiwake rank for September, he must win both remaining matches for a minimal kachi-koshi to defend his position. Today’s bout was all Hokutofuji from the tachiai. Hokutofuji was able to take command, get the dominant pushing attack started and drive Tamawashi out.
Harumafuji defeats Goeido – Goeido is now in serious jepardoy of re-earning kadoban status. His only hope is a final day win against Takayasu. Harumafuji opened strong, and Goeido had no effective counter strategy to stop himself from being driven backwards out of the ring.
Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Well, that was different and kind of wild. Hakuho decided he was going to do a strong-man pushing contest with Takayasu, and won! The Boss deployed a fair amount of nodawa, which put Takayasu first on defense, then off balance, and finally the Yokozuna tossed Takayasu sideways to the clay. Tomorrow Hakuho faces Goeido.