Hakuho, Harumafuji Remain Deadlocked On Day 9

Hakuho, Harumafuji remain deadlocked on Day 9Mongolia's Hakuho and Harumafuji matched each other with nine consecutive wins to stay tied for the lead on March 17 at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, and sekiwake Goeido gave rising star Endo a taste of the dirt in a fiery bout.

Yokozuna Hakuho, the defending champion, took out sekiwake Tochiozan (4-5) with a pair of thrusts at the face-off followed by a forward drive that even without a good belt hold was enough to force his prey over the edge.

Harumafuji, the junior yokozuna, drove sekiwake Kotooshu into retreat, pulled back as the Bulgarian tried to recover and sent him flying into the dirt as he flailed at thin air. The yokozuna was never in trouble and showed his characteristic speed and wits in garnering the win. Kotooshu hasn't been much of a factor against anyone this tournament, however, so the outcome was fairly predictable.

The former ozeki stands at a disappointing 1-8 record, and is likely to take a status hit the next time out.

One loss back, Mongolian ozeki Kakuryu used a confident grappling strategy against No. 3 maegashira Takayasu, and when that failed to do the trick, switched smartly to a leg sweep and a pull on the belt to send his opponent off balance. All that Kakuryu needed to do to finish the match was add a good push, which he did quite deftly.

Kakuryu is still looking good, but he doesn't quite seem to be faring well enough to stand out and take charge. He could win promotion to yokozuna if his compatriots melt down, but he also may have to add on a little more pizzazz to really grab the attention of the sumo association's leaders.