BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Kisenosato has withdrawn, as predicted.
In yesterday’s preview, I wrote that all three 7-1 rikishi chasing Hakuho had easy matches on paper. I also suggested that Takarafuji would be an easy out for Kisenosato. And that, folks, is why they hold the actual bouts.
Here’s what’s on tap for tomorrow.
Kotoyuki took umbrage at being referred to here as “Juryo-bound” and took it out on Okinoumi. Tomorrow, he takes on Ishiura, who is visiting from Juryo and would love to strengthen his case for a quick return to Makuuchi.
Aoiyama was done in by one wily veteran today. Tomorrow, he takes on the wiliest of veterans, Aminishiki, who’s come down to earth a bit and needs some new tactics.
Daiamami is two losses away from a return to Juryo. He takes on Asanoyama, who’s been rediscovering his good sumo.
Ikioi vs. Shodai: if these two formed a band, it would be called either The Disappointments or The Underachievers.
After today’s shenanigans, I’m done writing about Chiyosh(ame on you).
Takekaze is also resisting a demotion to Juryo, and takes on Tochinoshin, who leads their career series 11-4.
Endo continues to do patient, technical sumo. He is up against Arawashi, who was brought down to earth (literally, and twice) by the previously winless Tochiozan. This could be a great bout. I’m sure Endo will be watching carefully for the henka attempt.
Chiyotairyu vs. Hokutofuji could be a brutal street fight—unless another unexpected belt battle breaks out instead.
Shohozan only has a 3-6 record to show for his strong and spirited sumo. Takakeisho comes into the bout with a mirror-image 6-3 record, and wants to resume piling up wins to ensure promotion to San’yaku.
Tamawashi is probably only a win or two away from a San’yaku return after a one-basho absence, and has a reasonable shot at moving all the way back up to his long-held Sekiwake rank. He faces Onosho, who is 2-0 since donning his red mawashi and who won their only previous meeting at Aki.
Tochiozan came back from the dead today to take down Arawashi. He and Yoshikaze have a long history, with a near even 13-15 record (excluding one fusen win), although recent history favors Yoshikaze, who’s won 10 of the last 12, including the last 3. At 4-5, Yoshikaze needs to go at least 4-2 in the last 6 days to maintain his Sekiwake rank.
Goeido is one win away from his kachi-koshi, and takes on Mitakeumi, whose Sekiwake rank is none too safe at 5-4.
Kotoshogiku is running out of gas, and Takayasu should easily hand him his make-koshi (on paper!). Takayasu needs 2 more wins to clear his kadoban status.
Kisenosato vs. Chiyonokuni: I’ll be really surprised if this match actually takes place. Expect a fusen win for Chiyonokuni.
Ichinojo vs. Hakuho is not looking quite as much like the bout of the basho as it did before Ichinojo laid a giant (kaiju?) egg against Daishomaru. Ichinojo famously upset Hakuho in May 2015, handing Terunofuji his only Yusho. This was back when Ichinojo was at Komusubi and on his way up to Sekiwake for his last appearance in San’yaku to date. They have faced off 8 other times, with Hakuho taking them all. This is their first meeting since May 2016. Hopefully today’s bout was a one-day blip for Ichinojo, and the Boss gets an opponent worthy of relieving his boredom tomorrow.