Drama at New Year Basho: Takakeisho Defeats Onosho to Set up Three-Way Tie for Lead

The ozeki grappler halted a two-match losing skid at the New Year Basho to keep alive his hopes of promotion to yokozuna.

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Takakeisho put on a display of ozeki pride on Friday, January 20 to defeat rank-and-filer Onosho and set up a three-way tie for the lead at the New Year Basho.

Coming off two straight losses, Takakeisho was all business in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, unleashing a barrage of arm thrusts that sent the upset-minded No. 8 maegashira flying off the raised ring.

It was a must win for Takakeisho, the highest-ranked wrestler in the 15-day tournament. He is gunning for promotion to yokozuna and a third straight loss would have certainly dashed those hopes.

With two days left in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, Takakeisho, Onosho and Kotoshoho, who won an earlier bout, are all tied at 10-3. 

Komusubi Kiribayama, top maegashira Daieisho and rank-and-filer Azumaryu are all still in contention, one win back at 9-4.

Takakeisho will face Mongolian Hoshoryu on Day 14 while Onosho gets Kiribayama and Kotoshosho takes on Daieisho.

In Contention for New Year Basho Title

No. 13 maegashira Kotoshoho stayed right in the thick of the title chase when he stepped to the side at just the right time and thrust down Abi, the November 2022 tournament winner, to improve to 10-3.

No. 3 maegashira Abi used his trademark arm thrust but was knocked off balance by Kotoshoho to drop to 7-6.

Komusubi Kiribayama bolstered his chances for promotion to sekiwake when he used a frontal crush-out to dispatch third-ranked maegashira Midorifuji (6-7) and pick up his ninth win against four losses. 

Promising No. 5 maegashira Ryuden got a right-handed grip on the belt of Shodai and hoisted the sekiwake out to wrap up a winning record at 8-5. Former ozeki Shodai, who had won four in a row, dropped to 6-7.

In an all-sekiwake showdown, Wakatakakage used a beltless arm throw to defeat Mongolian Hoshoryu and give both men a record of 7-6. Hoshoryu, who has an injured left ankle, attempted a right-footed leg sweep but couldn't pull it off.

Komusubi Kotonowaka swatted down 38-year-old veteran Tamawashi to earn his sixth win against seven losses. No. 2 maegashira Tamawashi dropped to 8-5.

Daieisho Notches 10th Victory

Top maegashira Daieisho used a ferocious thrusting attack to overpower No. 10 maegashira Hiradoumi for his 10th win against three losses. Hiradoumi had a chance to secure a winning record but fell to 7-6 and will have to wait another day.

A day after wrapping up a winning record, No. 14 maegashira Azumaryu used a strong overarm throw to upend 11th-ranked Chiyoshoma (5-8) and move to 9-4. 

Fifth-ranked maegashira Nishikigi deployed a superb beltless arm throw at the edge to topple Takarafuji and wrap up a winning record at 8-5. No. 16 Takarafuji fell to 7-6.

Komusubi Wakamotoharu, the brother of Wakatakakage, took a step toward securing a winning record when he shoved out sixth-ranked maegashira Hokutofuji to give both grapplers a record of 7-6.

Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles here.

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