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SUMO: Nagoya Basho 2017 (Day 3)

It’s only Day 3 of the Nagoya Basho and already a yokozuna and a pair of ozeki have two losses apiece. This really seems like the kind of tournament where ANYTHING could happen!

Yokozuna Harumafuji had better snap out of whatever is bothering him quickly. He hasn’t exactly looked bad in his two losses, but he sure hasn’t looked focused. The Kokai [Sumo Association] were already beginning to make noises about it being time for him to retire last tournament (where he looked pretty good until he turned his ankle). If he’s going to fall into a pattern of losing multiple times in Week 1, they’re going to do more than just grumble . . . and he may find his fate decided for him. (Yes, the Sumo Association can FORCE a yokozuna to retire. They just don’t like to be so unsubtle unless their will is outright flaunted.)

Ozeki Goeido ALSO seems to be falling back into old bad habits. In both of his matches so far he was out-thought and out-fought, leaving him looking befuddled as he bowed and exited the dohyo. He’s got to rack up at least five wins in Week 1 if he wants a realistic chance at kachi-koshi [majority of wins] . . . and really an ozeki should be aiming for double-digit wins. If he loses even one more match this week, I predict that he’ll be kadoban [threated with ozeki demotion] AGAIN in September.

Ozeki Terunofuji clearly is still recovering from his surgery. I can only hope that his oyakata [coach] prevails upon him to go kyujo [absent for injury] before he gives himself a major setback. However, this is the guy who when clearly injured stayed in a tournament and pulled in the worst ozeki record of all-time (2–13) just because he was too proud to take a few days off.

There are a few other popular rikishi who already show clear signs of injury. Both M3s, Endo and Ikioi, seem to be having leg problems, and M9 Okinoumi can barely put any pressure on his left foot. It wouldn’t surprise me to see all of them withdraw before the full fifteen days have elapsed.

Let’s hope, though, that everyone at least looks healthier today.

M11 Chiyokuni (0–2) vs. M9 Okinoumi (0–2)—Two pretty good rikishi who have started the tournament terribly. They’re both real fighters, though, and one of them will get to turn his fortunes around today. (2:55)

M4 Ura (2–0) vs. M4 Kagayaki (0–2)—It’s always fun to watch Ura, especially when he’s squaring off against someone much larger than he is. (4:45)

Sekiwake Tamawashi (2–0) vs. komusubi Yoshikaze (2–0)—Two sanyaku rikishi who are on a roll early in the tournament. Yoshikaze has beaten an ozeki and a yokozuna already (Goeido and Harumafuji), and Tamawashi has beaten an ozeki (Terunofuji). But only one of them gets to remain unbeaten after today. (6:10)

Ozeki Terunofuji (0–2) vs M3 Ikioi (0–2)—These two have both started slowly, and are looking for a way to turn their fortunes around. You can count on spirited sumo, but each also is nursing one or more injuries that leave them vulnerable. (7:55)

M2 Hokutofuji (1–1) vs. yokozuna Kakuryu (2–0)—Hokutofuji has made a rapid ascent up the banzuke, and this is his first match EVER against a yokozuna. (10:20)

Yokozuna Kisenosto (1–1) vs. M2 Tochinoshin (1–1)—Tochinoshin gave his usual strong effort against Hakuho yesterday, but came up short. He’ll probably take the same tactic against another yokozuna today, but Kisenosato’s left arm is clearly still bothering him, and that might give the Georgian rikishi an opening to apply his powerful attack. (11:30)

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