Terunofuji closes in on title as Myogiryu stays alive

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yokozuna Terunofuji, left, grapples with ozeki Takakeisho on the 14th day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Saturday.

Yokozuna Terunofuji moved into position to capture his fifth career title when he threw down ozeki Takakeisho on Saturday to take a 12-2 record and one-win lead into the final day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

With Takakeisho securing a belt hold, Terunofuji grabbed an overarm belt hold himself, then moved to the side and sent the ozeki spiraling to the dirt with a hip throw on the second attempt. Takekeisho fell to 8-6.

No. 10 maegashira Myogiryu became the lone wrestler standing between Terunofuji and the Emperor’s Cup in his yokozuna debut when he shuffled out ozeki Shodai (8-6) to improve to 11-3.

On Sunday, Terunofuji will face ozeki Shodai. He will clinch the title outright with if Myogiryu loses to sekiwake Meisei beforehand, or if both win. A victory by Myogiryu and loss by Terunofuji would set up a championship playoff between the two.

Three maegashira-ranked wrestlers started Saturday’s action one win off the lead, but only Myogiryu kept his title hopes alive after both No. 6 Onosho and No. 11 Endo were dealt quick-fire defeats and dropped to 10-4.

Onosho’s match ended in the blink of an eye as sekiwake Meisei (7-7) slapped him down right at the jump-off. Earlier, Endo also flopped to defeat, but it took slightly longer against burly komusubi Ichinojo. Endo came out with a strong shove but got overextended, and Ichinojo only had to step back and press down to get his kachikoshi eighth win.

In the only other match involving a sanyaku wrestler — those in the three ranks below yokozuna — No. 8 maegashira Okinoumi used an underarm belt throw to toss down sekiwake Mitakeumi, who dropped to 8-6 to assure he will finish with single-digit wins for the second straight tournament.