Kisenosato Outmuscles Ikioi to Improve to 5-0

Kisenosato put on a suspense-filled show against Ikioi in earning his fifth win in as many bouts at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

Enthusiasm was peppered with disappointment for the sellout crowd at Edion Arena Osaka with the announcement of yokozuna Hakuho’s withdrawal due to a toe and thigh injury in the tourney that initially saw four yokozuna for the first time in 17 years.

But Kisenosato gave the whiners their money’s worth as he kept them on the edge of their seats, taking his sweet time to dispose of Ikioi (1-4) and maintain a five-way share of the lead as the sole yokozuna with a perfect record.

Kisenosato needed a few attempts before he bulldozed Ikioi out of the ring, while the top-ranked maegashira let the tension mount by his display of aggressive sumo, his feet barely inside the dohyo until the final seconds.

The other two yokozuna — Harumafuji and Kakuryu — also posted wins while Hakuho forfeited his scheduled bout against komusubi Mitakeumi (3-2).

Harumafuji (3-2) showed his champion class with powerful thrusts en route to edging out third-ranked maegashira Shohozan, still winless after five days.

Kakuryu was no match for second-ranked maegashira Sokokurai (1-4), who was given no chance to counter before he was pushed out of the ring in a blink of an eye in the day’s final bout.

Four more grapplers — ozeki Terunofuji, sekiwake Takayasu, No. 3 maegashira Takarafuji and 10th-ranked Tochiozan — are tied with 5-0 records.

Terunofuji stretched his winning streak after overcoming an initial charge by No. 2 maegashira Takanoiwa (1-4) and eventually grabbing his opponent’s belt and lifting him out of the straw bales.

After a few slaps in the face, Takayasu needed little time to grab Shodai (2-3) by the neck and shove him down hard onto the dirt to maintain his perfect record.

Takarafuji defeated No. 6 maegashira Chiyonokuni (3-2) and Tochiozan beat seventh-ranked maegashira Chiyoshima (4-1).

Top maegashira Takekaze picked up his first win of the meet by sending Goeido to his fourth straight loss, taking advantage of the ozeki’s loss of balance and executing an under-shoulder swing down.

Brazilian eighth-ranked maegashira Kaisei, who missed the first five days of the spring tourney due to a right knee injury, will return to action Friday and take on sixth-ranked maegashira Aoiyama of Bulgaria.

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