It’s day 2 in Osaka, and the big matches are (for me) Ishiura and Hokutofuji, Chiyoshoma and Okinoumi, Onosho and Wakatakakage, and Ura against Mitakeumi. Lets take a look at the fight card.
I will point out to folks that Team Tachiai tend to divide the basho in 3 distinct acts, as each 5 day period seem to have different goals, and purpose. For Act 1, the purpose is to remove ring rust, see who is hot and who is not. With just one day behind us, its still quite early to see who will emerge hot from the first few days, but day 2 always has a surprise or two.
What We Are Watching Day 2
Ichiyamamoto vs Kotokuzan – Was day 1 an improvisation for Ichiyamamoto, or a peek at a broader array of sumo skills? I would love to think that it’s the latter. I know that one dimensional sumo can still be quite successful sumo, but I find myself missing the versatilty of some rikishi of recent days. Kotokuzan is still looking for his first win of March, and he has a 1-1 record against Ichiyamamoto, so I am looking for an even battle here today.
Akua vs Kagayaki – Neither one of these guys won their day 1 match, with Akua absorbing that brutal forearm strike from Tochinoshin that may have left him a bit disoriented. He has not lost to Kagayaki in either of their 2 prior matches, so this may be a fair test to see if there is any lasting damage for Akua from his day 1 fight.
Nishikigi vs Tochinoshin – Nishikigi’s poor eyesight means he always fights from close range, and his sumo is squarely in the yotsu school. Will we see Tochinoshin attempt another first step win today? That was a bold move on his part, brutal and quite effective. While I don’t prefer to see rikishi injuring their opponents, it’s still well within the rules.
Chiyomaru vs Yutakayama – In spite of his day 1 win, Yutakayama looks really sloppy. That right arm seems to almost have some kind of soft cast on it, and it is going to limit his performance this March. I would think that Chiyomaru, if he can resist the urge to pull, should have the upper hand today.
Kotoshoho vs Chiyonokuni – I worry that Chiyonokuni is still hurt enough that his sumo is not up to top division standards. He just seems to struggle to generate the power needed to make his move and strike sumo really pay off. His whole technique comes down to massive hits from the side as he shifts away from where you are working to counter attack. Kotoshoho lost their prior match back in November, but I think he has a strong chance to prevail today.
Myogiryu vs Chiyotairyu – Myogiryu got dropped on the first step on day 1, and I am sure he was duly embarrassed by that. I expect he is going to come back strong against Chiyotairyu today. Chiyotairyu managed a very clever win on day 1, but I am going to guess he can’t quite muster the power he once enjoyed, so lets see what he can employ today.
Kotoeko vs Terutsuyoshi – Two compact, highly aggressive rikishi going head to head, yes please! Hopefully Kotoeko keeps his eyes on Terutsuyoshi’s center mass. It would be a shame for “Little T” to pull a stunt two days in a row.
Tobizaru vs Aoiyama – Great clash of styles here, megafauna Aoiyama’s low-gear stump blasting power vs Tobizaru’s high agility combo attack style. They have an even 2-2 record across their career, and history shows that they are going to have an even fight. Make sure to have your sake ready for this one.
Shimanoumi vs Wakamotoharu – Both men are looking for their first win of Haru, and the bad news is that one of them will exit today’s match 0-2. I think Wakamotoharu may have a slight edge in dexterity, and Shimanoumi going to have an edge in overall power. So I expect this will come down to who can get their hands to the inside, and who can get a working defensive foot placement first.
Takayasu vs Sadanoumi – This one should be a “gimme” for Takayasu. He looked strong, calm and confident on day 1, which I would expect after getting forced into taking a basho off due to COVID kyujo. He has a 5-0 record over Sadanoumi, and I see no reason for him not to continue his winning streak today.
Chiyoshoma vs Okinoumi – Chiyoshoma continues to show skillful, clever sumo. But I really prefer Okinoumi’s chance in this match. His superior catalog of sumo moves and counter moves should be enough to overcome whatever advantage Chiyoshoma may have in terms of youth and speed.
Takarafuji vs Kotonowaka – I say that I think Kotonowaka is “going to be a big deal”. This match is a way for him to underscore that prognosis, if he is overcome Takarafuji’s strong defensive sumo. Kotonowaka bring plenty of mass and power tp this match, but Takarafuji gets to train with Terunofuji, which more or less prepares him to survive any opponent.
Hokutofuji vs Ishiura – Great clash of styles here, we have the smaller more “inside” fighter in Ishiura, and the larger more thrust powered Hokutofuji. I like Hokutofuji’s chances today, even though they share as 3-3 career record, and both have yet to score their first win.
Endo vs Meisei – Endo showed up with what I am going to guess is a healthy amount of ring rust. He looked vague and not very focused on day 1. I know he can fight, and I know he can win. He has a 6-2 record over Meisei, so hopefully he will be sharp and aggressive today.
Kiribayama vs Hoshoryu – I did not expect Hoshoryu to really give much of a contest to Terunofuji on day one. So for me, this is the first “real” day of the basho for him. I hope he can bring his best sumo against Kiribayama, who would probably like to get a named rank back some time soon.
Wakatakakage vs Onosho – This match just oozes blinding offense. Will Onosho get too far over his toes again and eat Osaka clay, or will we see Wakatakakage catch a full broadside and end up in the 3rd row? Either way, I think this match has a high potential for fireworks.
Tamawashi vs Abi – I am surprised that Abi tends to dominate matches with Tamawashi (4-2), when Tamawashi has more mass and excellent stability in most cases. But I supposed Abi puts so much power in each thrust, it just takes one to get any opponent in trouble.
Shodai vs Takanosho – I am going to dread watching Shodai’s matches, knowing that he’s still trying to shake the effects of his COVID infection from weeks ago. Although he has an 8-4 career advantage over Takanosho, I would give onigiri-kun a clear advantage over the man with the damaged lungs.
Ura vs Mitakeumi – Ura could not get a win on day 1 against Takakeisho, but he looked solid enough in his match that I don’t think he’s anything short of “good” for week 1. He has a 0-2 record against Mitakeumi, so I guess he is going to get bounced around today and tossed out for loss. I hope Ura can keep his fighting sprint intact until his “easier” week 2.
Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – I think Takakeisho is probably healthy, and if he is, he should dominate Ichinojo. I know myself and Ichinojo fans get frustrated the the Boulder seems to lose patience when he’s in the drivers seat in a match, and let advantages slip through his fingers. I don’t expect him to do much against Takakeisho today.
Terunofuji vs Daieisho – This should be a good fight, much more chance for real battle than the day 1 match against Hoshoryu. Daieisho is happy to fight full power against anyone, any time, and I think we will get to see how tuned up Terunofuji is for Osaka.