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Sumo: Takakeisho hands Takayasu share of Kyushu lead with 1 day left

Komusubi Takakeisho makes an agonized face after he was pulled down to the dohyo ring by ozeki Takayasu on Day 14 of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Nov. 24, 2018. (Mainichi/Tomohisa Yazu)

FUKUOKA -- Komusubi Takakeisho overreached against ozeki Takayasu and instead of clinching the title on Saturday, left the two men tied heading into the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

As he had throughout the tournament at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, the 22-year-old Takakeisho looked quicker than his opponent.

He shoved the ozeki back with his opening charge, and with Takayasu reeling, he had a championship in his grasp. Trying to press his advantage too quickly, the komusubi lunged forward slightly off balance and his feet slipped out from under him on the sandy surface.

"My opponent put me under heavy pressure and I was getting forced out. I just reacted and didn't notice his feet (sliding)," said Takayasu, who spun around at the straw bales to attempt an escape only to see Takakeisho slump helplessly to the surface.

The loss left both wrestlers with identical 12-2 records.

On Sunday, Takakeisho will face No. 3 maegashira Nishikigi, who secured his eighth win on Saturday by forcing out No. 8 Takarafuji (6-8).

"I've got my winning record, so now I want to really bring it (tomorrow)," said Nishikigi after his fifth straight win.

The 28-year-old Takayasu, who is also looking for his first career championship, will take on sekiwake Mitakeumi, who he has beaten in 10 of their 14 career bouts. Should they both win or both lose, the two would get a rematch in a championship playoff.

Mitakeumi suffered his eighth loss, forced out at the hands of ozeki Tochinoshin, who secured his eighth win in what has been a dismal tournament for him. The Georgian strongman said he had entered the match nervous but would sleep well after securing his winning record.

After entering the tournament with a shot at promotion to ozeki, Mitakeumi will now face demotion. But before that he will fight in the tournament's final bout on Sunday.

"That match will be the finale, and I want to deliver some rousing sumo," Mitakeumi said.

Fellow sekiwake Ichinojo earned his sixth win, forcing out No. 5 maegashira Asanoyama (5-9).

Brazilian komusubi Kaisei, who missed the tournament's first two days with a left leg injury, withdrew again from his bout on Saturday.

On Friday, after he collapsed backward in the ring when his right leg buckled, the 31-year-old's injury was diagnosed as damage to the left gastrocnemius muscle, one of two muscles in the calf. The Japan Sumo Association said the injury will prevent him from competing for a month.

Top-ranked maegashira Myogiryu secured his seventh win by shoving out No. 4 Yoshikaze to his seventh loss.

With Takakeisho sure to be promoted from komusubi while Kaisei is demoted after just three wins, a promotion back to the "sanyaku" ranks -- the three below yokozuna -- is now a possibility for former sekiwake Myogiryu, provided he can overcome No. 5 Chiyotairyu, who will also be looking for his eighth win.

No. 9 maegashira Kotoshogiku, a former ozeki, improved to 9-5 by forcing out No. 11 Okinoumi, whose slim hopes of a championship were wiped out with his fourth defeat.

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