Sumo: Tochiozan sets pace at Kyushu meet after Kisenosato’s withdrawal

Rank-and-file wrestler Tochiozan beat ozeki Takayasu and earned his fifth-straight win Thursday, taking the spotlight at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament following the withdrawal of Japanese grand champion Kisenosato.

With no remaining yokozuna in competition, Tochiozan shares the lead with komusubi Takakeisho one-third of the way through the 15-day tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Both wrestlers are seeking their first top-division title.

Kisenosato forfeited his scheduled Day 5 bout against No. 2 Tamawashi (3-2). The 32-year-old grand champion withdrew prior to the day’s bouts citing a knee injury after posting four-straight opening losses, the most by a yokozuna in 87 years.

In the day’s final bout, Tochiozan and Takayasu, who both entered the match undefeated, struggled to gain the upper hand. The ozeki got the first opportunity by driving Tochiozan to the edge, but the maegashira circled out of harm’s way.

Tochiozan retaliated but Takayasu resisted and forced a standoff in the center of the raised ring. With the pressure mounting, Tochiozan mustered his strength and countered with a mighty underarm throw, heaving Takayasu out to his first loss.

The 31-year-old Tochiozan, a former sekiwake, has already beaten both sekiwake, two of the three ozeki and handed Kisenosato his fourth straight loss on Wednesday. Tochiozan improved to 20-7 against Takayasu.

Takakeisho also remains undefeated after beating sekiwake Ichinojo (1-4).

The Mongolian attempted to use his 227-kilogram frame to deflect the komusubi’s shoves, but was eventually pushed off balance and out of the ring.

In their first top division bout, Nishikigi (1-4) beat ozeki Goeido (2-3) to record his first win of the tournament.

Goeido was looking for an easy push-out win and attempted to drive the No. 3 maegashira back towards the straw. But Nishikigi quickly manufactured an underarm lock, spinning at the edge and throwing the ozeki onto his back.

Top-ranked maegashira Hokutofuji (3-2) produced another Day 5 upset by beating ozeki Tochinoshin for the first time in their three top-level meetings.

Hokutofuji, who earned his fifth «kimboshi» prize for beating Kisenosato on Day 3, denied Tochinoshin his favored belt hold and kept the Georgian upright.

When Tochinoshin switched gears and attempted to pull down his opponent, Hokutofuji landed a well-timed lunge and drove Tochinoshin over the straw.

In the day’s first upper rank match-up, Kaisei (1-2-2) defeated sekiwake Mitakeumi (2-3). The Brazilian komusubi entered the meet on Day 3 due to a minor leg injury.

Kaisei thwarted Mitakeumi’s initial charge and rebounded at the edge of the straw, driving his lighter opponent out at the opposite side to pick up his first win.

Five rank-and-filers stand one win off the pace after Day 5, including No. 5 Chiyotairyu, No. 7 Abi, No. 9 Daieisho, No. 13 Onosho and No. 15 Daiamami.

Former ozeki and hometown favorite Kotoshogiku, currently ranked No. 9, fell to 3-2 after losing to Abi. No. 7 Shohozan (2-3), a fellow Fukuoka native, was beaten by Daieisho.

All — Kyodo News+

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