Tokyo (Kyodo) Ozeki Kotooshu dumped Hakuho to a shock first defeat Saturday, throwing the title race into confusion with one day remaining at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Hakuho, aiming for back-to-back titles after winning the spring meet with a perfect 15-0 mark, saw his winning streak in regulation snapped at 33 bouts.
Kotooshu (9-5) got a quick jump to the side at the faceoff and promptly moved in for a firm belt grip before handily disposing of Hakuho with an overarm throw that left the yokozuna’s back covered in dirt at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
In the previous basho at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Hakuho was lucky to escape with a victory against Kotooshu. Then, Hakuho had trouble securing a belt grip against the Bulgarian ozeki but somehow deployed a powerful overarm throw when his opponent tried to muscle him over the edge. On the 14th day of the same basho, Spring Grand Sumo Tournament 2009, Kotooshu secured the title for Hakuho by crushing yokozuna Asashoryu. Asashoryu let Kotooshu in quickly for a firm belt grip and Kotooshu proceeded to muscle the yokozuna over the edge in a matter of seconds.
Hakuho and Harumafuji now share the lead at 13-1, and Asashoryu, who faces his yokozuna nemesis on Sunday, also has a mathematical shot in a tie of second with rank-and-filer Kisenosato.
In fact, a four-way playoff could ensue if both Hakuho and Harumafuji, who wrestles Kotooshu, lose their bouts but a more likely scenario would be a showdown between Hakuho and Harumafuji.