Sports

Takayasu stays one win ahead of pack in Osaka sumo tourney


Overnight leader Takayasu maintained his one-win buffer at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Saturday by beating fellow rank-and-file wrestler Hokutofuji.

Fighting as a No. 7 maegashira, former ozeki Takayasu improved to a perfect 7-0 to finish the first week of the 15-day tournament at Edion Arena Osaka as the only unbeaten competitor.

Three wrestlers — ozeki Mitakeumi, new sekiwake Wakatakakage and No. 6 maegashira Kotonowaka — are tied for second at 6-1 after victories on Day 7.

Coming into his bout against No. 6 Hokutofuji with a 9-8 head-to-head edge, Takayasu battled to an impressive win over the former komusubi.

Both opened with strong pushing and thrusting attacks, but it was Takayasu who made his blows count, driving Hokutofuji (3-4) back and out with well-directed hits to the chest and shoulders.

Mitakeumi, winner of the January tournament, stayed in the title race in his first competition at sumo’s second-highest rank, pulling down No. 3 Onosho (3-4).

Following an exchange of blows in the middle, Mitakeumi caught his opponent off balance and yanked him to the sandy surface.

Sekiwake Wakatakakage showed off his footwork and strength in a high-intensity battle against No. 1 Daieisho (4-3), winning via a rarely seen rear lifting body slam.

Daieisho thrust Wakatakakage backward before the sekiwake circled to the side and knocked his opponent off balance, hoisting him up, then dumping him over the straw.

Demotion-threatened “kadoban” ozeki Takakeisho (5-2) overpowered dangerous No. 2 Tamawashi (3-4), moving one win closer to the eight he needs to keep his rank.

The powerful pusher thruster stuck to his proven method, going straight into Tamawashi’s chest and sending him out backward with a succession of two-handed shoves.

Embattled ozeki Shodai (2-5), who is also laboring under kadoban status, earned a desperately needed win against No. 3 Meisei (1-6).

It was still tough sailing for Shodai, however, who was nearly sent over the straw before countering with a beltless arm throw.

Sekiwake Abi, a title contender in the past two tournaments, survived a close call against No. 1 Ura to improve to 5-2.

Ura (1-6) was quick off the mark and drove Abi back, but the new sekiwake just managed to keep his feet inside as he tossed his opponent to the clay.

Rising Mongolian star Hoshoryu, debuting in the three elite sanyaku ranks below yokozuna, earned an impressive win against fellow komusubi Takanosho.

Following a back-and-forth tussle, Hoshoryu (4-3) took a strong grip and toppled former sekiwake Takanosho (1-6) with an overarm throw near the edge of the ring.

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