It’s time to start worrying about Ozeki Takakeisho. Clearly whatever is happening on that left leg is getting worse, and he’s looking more likely to be kadoban for the next basho, which we hope will be in May. With only one Ozeki remaining, and likely to be kadoban, it will likely be an influence into the question of Asanoyama’s promotion to sumo’s second highest rank. Sadly for the sumo world, it is likely that Asanoyama is not quite ready for the rank, and there are really no other candidates who are showing any kind of consistency in their sumo.
I also expect there to be similar consideration for the Yokozuna, there are really no candidates for promotion to sumo’s highest rank, and both of the current Yokozuna are getting toward the end of their careers. But if Hakuho’s day 11 performance is any indication, at least one of them is showing no lack of vigor when the mood suits him.
Aoiyama defeats Kotonowaka – Big Dan retains his share of the tournament lead with a resounding defeat of Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka had a couple of solid face attacks, but that only got Aoiyama fired up, and the V-Twin went to work. I was impressed that Kotonowaka had the ring sense to circle and deflect quite effectively for a while.
Kotoshogiku defeats Chiyomaru – Welcome back Chiyomaru! But Kotoshogiku had your number today, the Kyushu Bulldozer blasted straight through Chiyomaru’s initial tsuppari attack, grabbed him around the chest and powered forward. Kotoshogiku improves to 6-5.
Ikioi defeats Daiamami – Daiamami had the better of the tachiai, and a brief ottsuke battle ensued. A failed advance from Daiamami, and it was a stalemate in the center of the dohyo, which ended with Ikioi swinging Daiamami out for the win. Ikioi improves to 6-5.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Azumaryu – Terutsuyoshi seems to have surprised Azumaryu, driving inside and getting a fight hand inside position. As Azumaryu was adjusting to defense, Terutsuyoshi advanced strongly and drove Azumaryu over the bales. Terutsuyoshi improves to 6-5.
Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu did a great job of getting inside, and applying force to Kaisei’s chest. But Kaisei shoved Chiyotairyu away, and dove in for the grip. Finding a left hand outside, it was time for another episode of Newtonian Sumo, this time against an extremely large opponent. Both men exit day 11 with 7-4 records, well on their way to well deserved kachi-koshi.
Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Great side step and deflect move by Meisei in the opening moments of the match brought him behind Sadanoumi, and it was an easy push out for the win. Sadanoumi picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi for March.
Takanosho defeats Ishiura – Takanosho continues to dominate, but I really thought Ishiura had a great tachiai. But his gambit of using straight ahead sumo met Takanosho’s power and strength, and was found lacking. Takanosho improves to 9-2.
Kiribayama defeats Nishikigi – Grim match for Nishikigi, he was high at the tachiai, stumbled past Kiribayama, and immediately found himself in his opponent’s bear-hug. With triumphant force, Kiribayama slammed him to the clay. Nishikigi picks up his 8the loss and is make-koshi.
Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shohozan continues to have absolutely no power this March, and finds himself outclassed by Shimanoumi. This is quite uncharacteristic for Shohozan, whose upper body strength is epic, when he is healthy. Shimanoumi improves to 6-5.
Tochiozan defeats Tamawashi – It seems no matter how hurt or in pain Tochiozan might be, he’s always got a mug full of smack down for Tamawashi. It was a simple “stand him up and throw him down” affair, but it was enough for Tochiozan’s first win of the basho.
Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – Well, that was quite the henka from the former Ozeki. He executes a couple of them every tournament now that he is walking wounded. Really a big let down to me as I wanted to see Tochinoshin battle Mr Fundamentals, but I understand.
Yutakayama defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s “Defend and Extend” sumo could not contain Yutakayama, who seems to be really back in his pre-injury form now. Take a look at Yutakayama’s ottsuke! His foot position is less than optimum, but I am going to assume he can get that worked out. Now if we could just graft Yutakayama’s upper body on Kagayaki from the hips down…
Enho defeats Tokushoryu – Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu continues to suffer, and Enho fans rejoice as he staves off make-koshi another day. Enho even let Tokushoryu do most of the work, with a perfectly timed side step at the tawara.
Okinoumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu opened strong with a series of attacks to Okinoumi’s face, but it left him high and a bit off balance. Okinoumi used the opening to get a left hand inside position, and got the yorikiri. Okinoumi improves to 6-5.
Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – This match was all Daieisho until somehow Mitakeumi made his enormous tadpole body more or less vanish at the tawara as Daieisho lunged forward to finish him off. That was one hell of a move, and I am sure Daieisho was wonder “where did he go?”. I had to watch it on slow motion a few times myself, and marvel at Mitakeumi’s exquisite foot work and timing. Mitakeumi improves to 9-2.
Endo defeats Onosho – Master sumo technician Endo dismantles the Red Tadpole with uncanny awareness of Onosho’s attempt to pull. In fact, it seems Endo may have known he was going to do it even before Onosho did. Perfectly replaced to avoid Onosho’s attack, Endo used the mistake to drive Onosho from the ring for the win. Both men leave the dohyo with 6-5 records on day 11.
Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Ryuden make Asanoyama work for that right hand inside position, shutting it down at the tachiai. But once Asanoyama set up shop, he caught Ryuden with his feet out of position, and with no defense. Asanoyama continues to move towards Ozeki consideration, but I worry that his sumo is still very narrow right now. It’s excellent sumo, but he may struggle as Ozeki until / unless he diversifies a bit.
Abi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho gets his arms out early, to grab Abi’s hands as they move to their first attack. A worthwhile gambit, and it works for a bit, giving Takakeisho the inside position and clear range to attack Abi’s body with his thrusting attack. But Takakeisho can’t make the timing work, and Abi masterfully resets, and lays down volley after volley against Takakeisho, driving him from the ring. Both end the match at 5-6.
Kakuryu defeats Shodai – As predicted, Shodai put up a strong effort, but it was all Kakuryu. The Yokozuna looked very strong and focused today, and given the worrisome state of the lone Ozeki, I think all talk of pressuring him to retire is off the table for the rest of the year.
Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – I am sure Hakuho was really upset with himself after day 10. He decided to toy with Onosho, and found that the Red Tadpole has quite the bite. Today he showed what kind of power he has when he is focused, intense and absolutely looking to win with overwhelming power. Hokutofuji is well north of 150 kg, but he was ejected in moments by Hakuho’s opening attack.