On day 12 of the spectator-less 2020 Spring tournament, former Ozeki Terunofuji (currently East Juryo 3) fought Hoshoryu (West Juryo 9), the 20 year old nephew of legendary Yokozuna Asashoryu. Both men went into the day’s match seeking their kachikoshi with 7 wins apiece.
After one false start the match was underway. Dodging the much heavier rikishi’s charge and slipping to the right, Hoshoryu reappeared on the big man’s side, reaching for his left leg. Terunofuji read the ashitori attempt well and pivoted to the right, squaring up and moving his leg out of the up-and-comer’s reach.
Maintaining his low stance, Hoshoryu settled for a deep right inside grip on the mawashi, and from there began to drive forward. Terunofuji took a left grip over top and attempted an uwatenage at the edge, but he was out of room. The smaller man took his left leg and braced against the tawara, leaning into a belt throw of his own. Sensing the counter, Terunofuji shifted his weight forward onto Hoshoryu who then shuffled to change the angle of his throw. The attempt failed once again and the two circled to face each other, Hoshoryu controlling the center of the ring.
A menacing drive forward, a back peddling shitatenage attempt, circumvented again, and once more with the drive forward. Finally Hoshoryu faked a shitatenage then switched to an uchigake. But Terunofuji’s heavy leg would not be moved, and breaking down the now upright posture of the Juryo 9, the former Ozeki planted him into the center of the dohyo with an over-arm throw.
“If you get a firm over-arm grip on the belt, your opponent’s tripping techniques and such aren’t as effective,” said a stoic Terunofuji after the bout, “So once I got my grip I thought, ‘I’m ok,’ and I was able to fight with composure.”
Terunofuji vs. Hoshoryu begins at 8:36 into the video:
The two fought last basho as well, Terunofuji winning by yoritaoshi.
Terunofuji has suffered through knee problems and diabetes mellitis, and the resulting sudden fall from Ozeki — after serving 14 basho there — left many wondering whether we would see the Mongolian powerhouse in a colored mawashi ever again. Returning to the dohyo in March of last year (after 4 basho off), Terunofuji began a surprisingly quick climb back up from Jonidan. He completed his first comeback tournament with 7 wins but lost in the championship playoff. In November he won the Makushita yusho with zero losses, and in January he took home the Juryo title with 13 and 2.
After 5 straight wins right off the bat this month, Terunofuji’s progress began to stall due to a nagging right elbow injury which happened before the March tournament. Nevertheless he stuck it out to win his crucial 8th today. On his short term goals, “With 3 days left, I still have a chance at the (Juryo) title. If I win just one more, I think I can make it back to the top division.”
Terunofuji has won 53 out of his 62 matches since returning last year. (as of day 12 of course)