The final basho of 2023 starts this Sunday! The fight cards for the first two days came out yesterday. The headline news is that two top-division rikishi are absent to start the tournament. Most observers expected Yokozuna Terunofuji to sit out yet another tournament, and that is indeed the case. The other absence, announced at the last possible moment, is that of M1e Asanoyama. The former Ozeki injured his calf in training, and while he was hoping to enter, the recovery has been too slow to allow it. Asanoyama is hoping to join at some point in order to avoid a big drop in rank.
Here are a few highlight bouts to wet your appetite:
On Days 1 and 2, promotion-seeking Ozeki Takakeisho will seek to avenge his September losses to Hokutofuji and Shodai, respectively. Takakeisho has been reported to re-aggravate his neck injury prior to the tournament. Fellow Ozeki Kirishima fights Ura and Abi, while Hoshoryu takes on Shodai and Ura.
In other Day 1 san’yaku action, we get Daieisho vs. Meisei, Wakamotoharu vs. Takayasu, Kotonowaka vs. Tobizaru, and Abi vs. Gonoyama. On Day 2, they rotate, with Wakamotoharu facing Meisei, Kotonowaka taking on Takayasu, Daieisho matched with Gonoyama, and Hokutofuji fighting Tobizaru.
Some great matchups there to kick off what we hope will be an exciting yusho race!