Grand champion Asashoryu defeated Kaio yesterday to set up a showdown with Mongolian rival Hakuho on the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Asashoryu (14-0) will face fellow grand champion Hakuho (13-1) today with a chance to win his 23rd Emperor’s Cup. Hakuho could claim his 10th title if he defeats Asashoryu in their scheduled bout and then again in an extra title-deciding bout.
Asashoryu faced little resistance in yesterday’s final bout, stunning Kaio (8-5) at the faceoff and then shoving the veteran ozeki out in a matter of seconds.
In the previous bout, Hakuho kept his tournament hopes alive when ozeki Chiyotaikai’s (7-7) knee touched the dirt surface as he was attempting to shove Hakuho out.
Asashoryu has 12 wins against six losses in his previous bouts with Hakuho but has sat out all or part of the previous three tournaments due to injury.
Hakuho has won the previous three tournaments where many argued he benefited from Asashoryu’s absence.
In other major bouts, newly promoted ozeki Harumafuji wrapped up a winning record when he spun Kotooshu (9-5) around after the faceoff and shoved the Bulgarian ozeki out to improve to 8-6.
Considering he started with four straight losses, a winning record is a satisfying result for Harumafuji, who was making his debut at sumo’s second-highest rank.
Estonian sekiwake Baruto put a stop to a five-loss skid when he shoved out No. 2 maegashira Miyabiyama (8-9) to ensure a winning record at 8-6.