Yokozuna Harumafuji and rising star Ichinojo fell to defeats at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Nov. 12, but defending champion Hakuho and rivals Kakuryu and Kisenosato all made it through the day unscathed.
Still by far the favorite to win this year's final competition and make history in the process, yokozuna Hakuho, gunning for a record-tying 32nd title, overpowered maegashira No. 2 Takarafuji with hardly any effort.
Yokozuna Kakuryu won his fourth bout by deflecting Toyohibiki's initial attack and using a belt hold to lift the maegashira No. 2 over the edge. But Harumafuji hit the dirt for the second day in a row. He came out well against top maegashira Tochiozan, but then fought off balance and bent over too low, allowing Tochiozan, who improved to 1-3, to send him all the way down.
Unbeaten Kisenosato had to earn his keep against maegashira No. 3 Terunofuji, though he dominated most of the way with a superior right-handed hold. The ozeki grappled hard and moved his opponent around, but Terunofuji (2-2) fought his way out of trouble each time until he gradually ran out of steam. In the end, Kisenosato took the bout largely on what appeared to simply be his greater desire to win.
Ozeki Goeido got off to a shaky start in his second tournament at his new rank, losing both his first two bouts, but came back in style against the much-touted sekiwake Ichinojo, who nearly stole the show from Hakuho in his September debut in the top division. The ozeki blasted out at the face-off, broke through the young Mongolian's defenses with his right arm and used his forward momentum and solid footwork to close the deal and improve to 2-2.
Ichinojo has now lost two bouts--as many as he lost over the entire 15 days the last time. However, his first loss was to none other than Harumafuji, and he should be given a little room to grow in his new role before any judgments are made about whether his stunning debut was a fluke.
In one of the day's best bouts, komusubi Ikioi (1-3) put on a fiery performance against ozeki Kotoshogiku, taking him head-on and fighting as though he was the senior wrestler of the two. He was aggressive and effective as he drove the grimacing ozeki over the edge to his second loss.
"Until now I hadn't come out with everything I have, so I focused on doing that today," Ikioi said. "No matter who my opponent is, I will give it my best."
Bulgarian sekiwake Aoiyama (2-2) slapped his way to victory over komusubi Takekaze (1-3), who was moving backward basically from the start under Aoiyama's heavy barrage. Rank-and-file wrestlers Kyokutenho and Okinoumi also remained undefeated.